By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
A reunion will come into fruition for the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series as Roush Fenway Racing announced Wednesday the sudden signing of Chris Buescher piloting the No. 17 Ford Mustang, replacing Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. after eight seasons.
Buescher drove for RFR in all of his 74 Xfinity Series starts, including two full-seasons from 2014-15 where he scored three wins and brought the team’s final series title in 2015.
Since moving to Cup in 2016, the Prosper, Texas native raced for Front Row Motorsports and JTG Daugherty Racing, where he’s shown flashes of consistency. Notably this season, where he’s scored four top-10s and sits 20th in points after 28 races.
As for Stenhouse, he’s only driven in Roush’s cars since joining the national tour in 2009 and during that span, he’s won two straight Xfinity Series titles (2011-12) before moving up to Cup full-time in 2013, replacing Matt Kenseth.
His brightest moment with the No. 17 team was making the playoffs in 2017 where he won twice at the spring race at Talladega and the July race at Daytona.
Since his banner year, Stenhouse’s chance of reviving his career has declined as he hasn’t won since and been heavily criticized for his driving style.
Three notable examples are the 2018 July Daytona race and two incidents with Martin Truex, Jr. this year. First at Atlanta where Truex bashed him for costing him a shot of winning and last Saturday at Richmond when Stenhouse turned into Truex in Turn 4.
Truex would recover to win the race, but Stenhouse’s Cup career is now in doubt as he sits 23rd in points. Meanwhile, his teammate Ryan Newman, who’s in his first season with RFR, is currently in the playoffs.
Despite reports saying his contract with Roush would go through the 2021 season, changes were needed to be made.
Jack Roush thanked Stenhouse’s contributions to the team and wishes the Mississippi native the best on his future endeavors.
“We can’t say enough about Ricky and his contributions to Roush Fenway Racing,” Roush said. “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.”
Roush is excited to have Buescher back on the stable and has seen his growth in the top level which led to signing him for 2020.
“We are certainly excited to have Chris back in the fold at Roush Fenway Racing,” Roush said. “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.”