Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will take over the ride vacated by Matt Kenseth for the 2013 season. (Getty Images)
JOLIET, Ill. - Roush Fenway Racing confirmed 2011 Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will drive its historic No. 17 Ford Fusion next season in the Sprint Cup Series. Stenhouse steps into the No. 17, with current team partners Best Buy, Fifth Third Bank and Zest returning as primary sponsors.
“It will be an exciting transition for Ricky and the team next season,” said co-owner Jack Roush. “We take great pride in driver development, and it is rewarding for all involved anytime we are able to watch one of our young men grow and progress. We have seen Ricky develop into a NASCAR Nationwide Series champion, and now his career path comes to fruition in the Sprint Cup Series next season.
“I can't think of a better fit for Ricky than the No. 17 team. Ricky will have the luxury of being flanked by a championship-level team from the start. His drive, determination and commitment to winning will mesh very well with the demeanor of the No. 17 team. It will be our job to put him in the best equipment possible as well as to guide him through the learning curves that are part of his rookie season."
Stenhouse is in the middle of a battle to win this year's Nationwide championship and comes into the Chicagoland Speedway weekend trailing Elliott Sadler by one point.
He's looking forward to stepping into NASCAR's top division next season and appreciates the confidence from the Roush team.
“I am honored to be able to step into the 17 ride that has won a championship for Jack and the whole team is a top caliber team," Stenhouse said. "I feel good that they have the confidence in me to be able to come in and run a car like that.
"To be a teammate to Carl [Edwards] and Greg [Biffle] is going to be a lot of fun on the Cup side. I will be leaning on those guys quite a bit to get these cars figured out. We have had success in the Nationwide Series, but it will be a tough road ahead. I think we are up for the challenge and looking forward to continuing our growth."
Best Buy, Fifth Third Bank and Zest, which all joined the No. 17 team this season, will increase their commitments in 2013. With their involvement, the majority of Stenhouse's races for 2013 are fully sponsored.
“In this sport, having great partners is critical to our ability to field top-tier race teams, and we are thrilled that Best Buy, Fifth Third Bank and Zest have had such success in our first year together that they are growing their programs for 2013,” said Roush Fenway president Steve Newmark. “We're privileged to have companies of that caliber and reputation as anchors on the No. 17 program and appreciate that each of them is very excited about the future with Roush Fenway.
“We have reserved a few primary races with Ricky, and the No. 17 team for next year and are in discussions with several companies right now who are interested in what promises to be an extremely exciting rookie year. It's really a great opportunity for companies that are looking to tap into the power of the sport.”
The No. 17 Roush ride has been the flagship entry for the team for more than a decade. Matt Kenseth gave team owner Roush the 2003 Sprint Cup Series title and is looking to add another to his collection this year before moving to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2013.