By Jerry Bonkowski
Tuesday morning's announcement that Matt Kenseth and Roush Fenway Racing will part ways at the end of this season is a real head-scratcher and leaves nothing but lots of questions and few answers in its wake.
Why would Jack Roush part ways with his most veteran driver? Why would Kenseth want to leave a place that has been his only home for all but one of his 452 career Sprint Cup starts?
Perhaps the most puzzling question of all is a two-parter: How can Roush simply let the current Sprint Cup points leader get away, and how, if at all, will Tuesday's news affect the No. 17 team's bid for its second Cup championship?
Roush has already announced Kenseth's replacement, naming 2011 Nationwide Series champ Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to take over the No. 17. That's great news for Stenhouse, but obviously has to be a blow for 2011 Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne, who many expected to be the next promotion to the Cup series within RFR.
“Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has more than proved his abilities on the race track,” Roush said. “We feel that he is not only a key piece of our team’s future, but a key piece of the future of the sport. Roush Fenway is an organization with a wonderful past and present, as well as an extremely promising future, and I can’t think of a better candidate than Ricky to usher in the next era of success for the team."
On the flip side, Stenhouse's gain could also be Bayne's gain, as he moves up one position and into the top replacement spot on the RFR bench. Of course, that means either Greg Biffle or Carl Edwards will have to leave – which I don't see happening any time soon – or RFR goes back to a four-car team, another thing I don't see happening any time soon unless a major sponsor comes out of nowhere to fund a fourth car operation.
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