Rarely is there a transaction in NASCAR that's favorable to both parties. However, in the case of Matt Kenseth's decision to leave Roush Fenway Racing for Joe Gibbs Racing (reportedly), that's exactly what it was.
For whatever reason, Jack Roush wasn't able to find a company willing to sign on and sponsor Kenseth long-term this season. Instead, Kenseth has had a revolving door of sponsors footing the bill and even then, it still wasn't enough as the defending winner of the Daytona 500 still had to run several races unsponsored.
This happened in spite of the fact Kenseth is a former series champion, has twice been victorious in the Daytona 500 and is a 22-time race winner. All the while, his two teammates at RFR – Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle – each had full funding despite the lack of a championship on either of their respective résumés.
For Kenseth, JGR offers him the stability which RFR cannot.
JGR will find a full-time sponsor for Kenseth (an area which they excel in, as all three of their cars have sponsorship for the full season) and more important, Kenseth will be able remain competitive and do what he does best – consistently win races and make the Chase on an almost yearly basis.
On the other side of the coin, while it's never a good thing to say goodbye to a driver who has done so much for your organization, RFR in the long-term will be just fine.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is a talented driver who should develop into a winner and, with time, perhaps a future Cup champion. It also doesn't hurt that he already has a contract with the team and one that pays him far less than what Kenseth was making. That's not an unfavorable proposition for team devoid of sponsorship dollars and one that was forced this past offseason to cut back from four cars to three.
Kenseth's departure also resolves an issue that has been developing at RFR for quite some time.
With Edwards and Biffle having both recently inked new deals with RFR and not going anywhere anytime soon, along with Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne waiting in the wings, there were too few seats to accommodate all the talent Roush has under contract.
Something had to give. There isn't an owner out there who wants to give up on a young driver unless they absolutely have to; especially drivers who have the talent that Stenhouse Jr., 24, and Bayne, 21, each possess. Even though Kenseth still has some good years left in him, the fact is he's on the wrong side of 40 and in the long run, it's more advantageous for Roush to cut bait sooner rather than later.
RFR frees up a much-needed seat and saves some money in the process, while Kenseth gets a new contract that properly reflects his stature as one of the sport's best and with a team which has the resources needed to win a championship.
All the way around, this has all the makings of a win-win deal.