Emotional Stenhouse thankful Jack Roush ‘took a chance on a dirt racer from Mississippi’

first_imgCONCORD, N.C. — At this time last week, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. thought he had his 2020 plans intact with Roush Fenway Racing in the No. 17.Cue NASCAR Silly Season.On Wednesday, Roush announced it would part ways with Stenhouse and bring in Chris Buescher to pilot the No. 17 Ford next season. It’s a sweet homecoming for Buescher, who spent his three years in the Xfinity Series with Roush Fenway Racing, but a tough goodbye for Stenhouse who didn’t see the move coming.RELATED: Key moves in Silly Season“A lot came down,” Stenhouse Jr. said after Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval qualifying Friday. “It was unfortunate, for sure, definitely tough timing for myself and my group to try and find another option. But, all in all, I’ve got to look back on the 11 years that I had with Jack (Roush) and winning races and championships and getting my first Cup win and being competitive. Not as consistent as what we wanted but at the end of it all, (but) I’m very thankful that Jack took a chance on a dirt racer from Mississippi to come drive his car.”Stenhouse, who has only raced behind the wheel of a Roush Fenway Racing car in seven full-time seasons in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, got his first career win in 2017 at Talladega Superspeedway. In all, he has 248 starts with the team, logging two wins, 15 top fives, 33 top 10s and two poles.Stenhouse’s emotions have fluctuated over the last two days with the realization he does not have a ride for next season while he still tries to focus on closing out 2019 in the No. 17. But he said he understands the reasoning behind the organization’s decision, despite how difficult it is for him.“Over the past two days, I’d say I went from angry (to) sad (to) optimistic,” he said. “Sometimes change is good. Like they said, it just didn’t work and it hadn’t been working over the last couple years. We’ve had speed, we just haven’t had consistent finishes.RELATED: Roush thankful for redo with Buescher“I think that’s what sucks for myself — I feel like we’ve had plenty of speed to get the job done, it’s just that a lot of things came down to us not getting those results. Ultimately, that’s what we’re here for is results and they weren’t coming.”Stenhouse still considers his relationship with team owner Jack Roush a special one after spending the entirety of his Cup Series career in a Roush car.“Little emotional with the relationship that Jack and I have, only team I’ve ever been at,” Stenhouse said. “Looking forward to seeing what’s next. Like I said, there’s a lot of work to do on that, but all in all, I’m definitely looking forward to these last eight with the great partners that we have, everybody on the 17 team.”Would a full-time ride in the Xfinity Series be out of the question? Not exactly.“I’m open to anything for sure,” Stenhouse said.Fellow Cup Series drivers were just as surprised as Stenhouse was at the news this week and offered support Friday in the garage.“I think he’s got a lot of talent and he’s a great race car driver,” Stewart-Haas Racing’s Aric Almirola said. “He’s won two Xfinity championships back-to-back (2011 and 2012), so I think Ricky does a great job. I feel like for most of his career he’s tried as hard as he possibly can try to get the most out of what he’s got.”Said Kevin Harvick, who has a management company that will represent Stenhouse next year: “Ricky’s got a great reputation in the garage, well-connected. He’s the only driver at Roush Racing that has won races since Carl Edwards left. That’s the unfortunate thing. He’s a Cup winner, he’s a two-time Xfinity Series champion and it’s just bad timing and sucks.”last_img