|Kenseth is a proven Sprint Cup winner|
For Roush Fenway Racing, Kenseth’s departure provides an opportunity to promote the latest in a long line of home-grown talents. In 1988, team owner Jack Roush plucked Mark Martin out of ASA obscurity, after the Arkansas native had failed in an earlier attempt at what is now the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. He brought West Coast short track star Greg Biffle to NASCAR in 1998 and gave Kenseth his shot at the big time in 2000. Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch and David Ragan also got their first national exposure in RFR equipment.
Now, it’s time for Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Trevor Bayne to take their shots.
Stenhouse, the 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion, will run for Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year honors next season in the Roush Fenway Racing Ford vacated by Kenseth. Bayne, the 2011 Daytona 500 champion, will replace Stenhouse in Roush’s potent Nationwide Series Mustang, making him an instant favorite for the 2013 title.
For Roush, the driver change provides a significant cost savings, since Stenhouse will command a more modest salary than Kenseth. By decreasing the cost of doing business, Roush lessens the demand on his marketing department, which has struggled to find sponsorship for Kenseth in each of the last two seasons. Simply put, the team will need smaller sponsors – and fewer of them – with Stenhouse at the wheel.
|Joe Gibbs solidifies his lineup|
The move also allows RFR to secure its future by locking both Stenhouse and Bayne into quality, long-term rides. At age 42, Biffle still has some good years ahead. Edwards, age 32, is in his competitive prime. Adding 24-year old Stenhouse to the mix ensures that Roush Fenway Racing will remain competitive for years to come.
Clearly, Kenseth did not jump ship at RFR without a comfortable place to land. The Wisconsin native’s is believed to be headed to Joe Gibbs Racing next season to drive the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota. The ride is a proven winner, claiming the 2002 and 2005 Sprint Cup Series championships with Tony Stewart at the wheel, and will allow him to contend immediately for race wins and championships. The team is backed by a loyal, long term sponsor in The Home Depot, providing Kenseth with his first fully-backed team in recent memory.
The move allows JGR to solidify its relationship with The Home Depot by placing a proven winner and former series champion in their car for the first time since Stewart left town following the 2008 season. With all due respect to Joey Logano, wins have been few and far between for “Big Orange” in recent years, and the addition of Kenseth to their program will allow the home improvement giant to compete head-to-head once again with rival Lowe’s.
Roush Fenway Racing wins. Joe Gibbs Racing wins. Matt Kenseth, Ricky Stenhouse and Trevor Bayne all win. The Home Depot wins, as well.
With the possible exception of Logano, this deal make sense for everyone involved.