Ricky Stenhouse Axed From Team — 1 Year Early

Getty Images / Jared C. Tilton

A sudden and unexpected announcement from his former team came early today when they revealed they had cut him from the team and already inked a deal with his replacement.

Clearly, the team was not satisfied with his performance…and they made it known.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. had been running the No. 17 Ford Mustang for Roush Fenway Racing since 2012 when he replaced Matt Kenseth on the team.

Stenhouse, who has failed to make it to the NASCAR playoffs in the last two seasons, had both his first and last Cup Series wins in 2017. Currently, he stands winless for the past 83 races.

Roush Fenway Racing and Stenhouse had a contract that lasted through 2021, but it appears that the team has cut ties with him early – using one of the performance-based exceptions or other exception to cancel the agreement.

After the Roush Fenway team announced their choice to end his contract, Stenhouse’s scheduled appearance on NASCAR America’s MotorMouths show has also been canceled.

To replace Stenhouse, Roush Fenway Racing has opted for Chris Buescher to take his spot in the No. 17 car.

Read the team’s full statement regarding the sudden change below along with some videos of pros discussing what it means for the sport.

“Roush Fenway Racing has announced that Chris Buescher will make his return to the team, taking the wheel of its No. 17 NASCAR Cup Series Ford in 2020. The team will part ways with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. at the conclusion of the 2019 season.

We can’t say enough about Ricky and his contributions to Roush Fenway Racing,” said team co-owner and NASCAR Hall of Famer Jack Roush. “We’re proud to have been a part of Ricky’s development from ARCA to Xfinity and ultimately the Cup Series. He has served as a great representative to our partners, while helping to accumulate numerous accolades, wins and multiple championships on the racetrack. We wish him well as he enters the next chapter of his career.”

Buescher, a product of Roush Fenway’s development driver program, returns to the team that he led to a NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) title in 2015.

“We are certainly excited to have Chris back in the fold at Roush Fenway Racing,” said Roush. “He has a long history with our organization and we’ve always been a big fan of Chris and his racing style. We have watched his progress with great interest over the last couple of seasons and we are looking forward to having him in the No. 17 as we continue to grow our program next season.”

Buescher first joined Roush Fenway as a development driver in 2009, winning the 2012 ARCA Series championship in a partnership with Roulo Brothers Racing, before making his NXS debut for Roush Fenway in relief of Trevor Bayne in 2011. He moved to full time in the NXS in 2014, and in 2015 brought home Jack Roush’s eighth NASCAR Championship; dominating the series while leading the NXS standings for 24 consecutive weeks.

Stenhouse has piloted the No. 17 car for the past seven seasons after taking over for Matt Kenseth in 2013.

Buescher drove the No. 34 Ford during his Cup rookie season in 2016, racing his way into the playoffs via a victory at Pocono. He has served as the driver of the No. 37 Cup entry for the past three seasons and is currently 20th in the NASCAR Cup point standings.”