Matt Kenseth, driver of the #17 Best Buy Ford, stands in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 24, 2012 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (February 23, 2012 - Source: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America)
Considering all the warnings maybe we should have seen the departure of Matt Kenseth from Roush Fenway Racing coming.
Being first in the point standings and winning four races since the start of 2011 was not enough to garner the sponsorship dollars that owner Jack Roush seeked.
In fact Roush had went as far as paying out of pocket so Kenseth could race.
The organization announced today that Kenseth would be replaced by Ricky Stenhouse. Stenhouse drives for RFR in the NASCAR Nationwide Series but has also been lacking sponsorship for much of the season after winning the series title last season.
This is not the first time a high profile driver has left the e4confines of Roush Fenway. Mark Martin retired while with the team and later returned the following season. Jeff Burton and Kurt Busch have also had high profile and v0latble exits from the organization.
Roush went from four to three teams last season at the Cup level and saw it’s three team Nationwide program be cup to one.
There are no concrete plans for Kenseth yet. He had been rumored to either Penske or Joe Gibbs Racing. At Penske he would replace AJ Allmendinger in the #22 while at Gibbs he could replace Joey Logano in the #20 or be part of a fourth team.
Sponsorship dollars drive the sport. What is good for one car owner is not always enough for another.
Case in point. Last season Clint Bowyer wanted to remain a part of Richard Childress Racing but Childress said that the money from 5 Hour Energy was not enough to field an effective program. Bowyer won at Sonoma this weekend for Michael Waltrip Racing.
While Stenhouse also has had trouble gaining sponsorship his salary is $6 million less then Kenseth according to Jenna Fryer of the AP.
Kenseth is a 22 time winner in the Sprint Cup Series and was the series champion in 2003. He won the Daytona 500 in 2009 and again this year.