Ricky Stenhouse Jr. thought that he had a deal in place to remain with Roush Fenway Racing though the 2021 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. The Mississippi native found out differently earlier this week.
RFR found out that Chris Buescher didn’t have a contract in place with JTG Daugherty Racing past this season and despite both Buescher and JTG being in talks, nothing was signed. RFR’s stance was a simple one – they weren’t going to make the same mistake twice.
See, Buescher had been an RFR driver since 2009 when he signed a developmental deal. He’s won an ARCA and XFINITY Series championship with them. But, following his 2015 NXS title with RFR, the organization didn’t have any resources to expand on the Cup side to bring him up. So, they loaned him to Front Row Motorsports. When that deal ended in 2017, Buescher signed with JTG. Now that he was a free agent, they wanted him back.
Secondly, RFR was growing tired of Stenhouse tearing up equipment again. Stenhouse, has 28 DNF’s in his No. 17 Ford. Also, Stenhouse only has two top 10 finishes all season and sits 26th in the points standings. By comparison, his new teammate Ryan Newman is 10th in the points and on the verge of moving onto the second round of the playoffs. He has as many top fives and Stenhouse has top 10’s. He also has 1/3 of Stenhouse’s top 10 finishes with RFR in over 200 less starts.
“We are going to work on our cars being faster and not repairing them after they are damaged,” Jack Roush surprisingly said on Friday at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Stenhouse, well he’s emotional about the situation and in a tough spot. While RFR didn’t have to let him know about his option until Dec. 1, it’s still late in the year for Stenhouse to find another gig for 2020.
That irks Kevin Harvick.
“It’s not the way I would run a business,” Harvick said. “Ricky has got a great reputation in the garage, is well connected. He’s the only driver at Roush Racing that has won races since Carl Edwards. That’s the unfortunate thing. He’s a Cup winner. He’s a two time XFINITY champion. It’s just bad timing.”
Stenhouse, will choose to look at his past 11 years with RFR and not focus on the end.
“I’ve got to look back on the 11 years that I had with Jack and winning races and championships and getting my first Cup win and being competitive,” an emotional Stenhouse said on Friday. “Not as consistent as we wanted. At the end of it all, I am very thankful that Jack took a chance on a dirt racer from Mississippi to come driver his cars. That was fun. I’m a little emotional with the relationship Jack and I have.
“Only team I’ve ever been at.”