In a stunning turn of events, Roush-Fenway Racing announced this morning that Sprint Cup Series points leader Matt Kenseth will be leaving the team at the end of the 2012 season.
Roush-Fenway Racing team owner Jack Roush released the following statement.
"I’d like to thank Matt Kenseth for his many years of loyal service. Matt has been an integral part of this organization for well over a decade, and we are extremely appreciative of his accomplishments and contributions to the team, and will always consider him a part of the Roush Fenway family."
This move by Jack Roush is quite shocking to say the least. I figured that Matt would finish his Sprint Cup career with Roush-Fenway. Its sad that it won't happen.
I know that the decision was amicable, but more than likely its due to a lack of sponsorship. Earlier in the year, they had trouble picking up sponsorship for the #17. Best Buy was onboard for the first few races of 2012. Since they stopped sponsoring the #17 car, Ford has sponsored the car with EcoBoost technology.
Matt is a very talented driver who can win more than 2 races a year, but with the economy the way it is right now, sponsors are very careful with giving money to teams, and you need sponsorships no matter how talented you are.
Speaking of teams, since the announcement this morning, rumors have run ramped about the potential teams that could sign him.
Bob Pockrass of the Sporting News says that it may appear imminent that Kenseth signs with Joe Gibbs Racing. JGR officials have declined comment. Pockrass also says Penske Racing could be a possibility considering that they will switch to Ford next season.
If Kenseth decides to drive for Joe Gibbs, then things would become interesting for the former Redskins head coach. With Joey Logano's contract up after the 2012 season, I see him deciding on one of two ideas. He could put Kenseth in the 20 car (and Logano would be without a ride), or he could open a 4th team and try to find sponsors for the former Cup champion.
Joe Gibbs Racing officials have said that Joey Logano will be part of the organization for the future. However, I feel that might change.
Regardless of where Kenseth winds up, I'm sure he will compete for wins and championships for years to come.