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Buescher in, Stenhouse out of Roush Fenway’s No. 17 ride for 2020

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has lost his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series ride for the 2020 season, as Chris Buescher will take over the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, the team announced Wednesday.

Stenhouse has been a part of Roush Fenway since 2008 — that includes his ARCA Series days — and piloted the No. 17 since 2013. During his time in the national series, Stenhouse won two Xfinity Series titles (2011 and 2012) and two Monster Energy Series races (both in 2017). His best finish among the top competitors was 13th in the 2017 final standings.

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“We can’t say enough about Ricky and his contributions to Roush Fenway Racing,” team co-owner and NASCAR Hall of Famer Jack Roush said in the release. “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 race track. We wish him well as he enters the next chapter of his career.”

Stenhouse has never been a part of another team — save for one Cup start he made for the Wood Brothers in 2011. He has brought RFR 15 top fives and 33 top 10s at NASCAR’s top level, and the 2019 season isn’t over.

Meanwhile, Buescher is returning to Roush Fenway as a former member of the team’s development driver program. He first joined RFR in 2009 and went on to win the 2012 ARCA Series championship with Roulo Brothers Racing. He made his Xfinity Series debut in 2011 and then became full-time in 2014. The next year, his last at the time with RFR, Buescher won Roush his eighth NASCAR championship, leading the Xfinity Series standings for 24 consecutive weeks.

“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.”

The same year Buescher won the Xfinity Series championship he also made his Monster Energy Series debut. He did six races in 2015 for Front Row Motorsports and was one of the team’s full-time driver in 2016. The next year, though, Buescher switched to JTG Daugherty Racing and has been there ever since.

“We were in the final strokes of the contract when learning that Chris has gone in a different direction,” JTG Daugherty Racing team owner Tad Geschickter said in a statement. “We appreciate all of the efforts from Chris through the past three seasons at JTG Daugherty Racing. When the dust settles, we will begin the process of searching for our next driver to fill the No. 37 seat for the 2020 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season.”

During his time in the Monster Energy Series, Buescher has won one race and had a best overall finish of 16th in the final standings — both in 2016. He has accumulated four top fives and 12 top 10s entering this weekend’s race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course.

Buescher released his own statement later Wednesday night.

“Jack Roush and John Henry have emphasized that they believe in my ability to compete at a high level in their race cars; and that is the expectation,” Buescher said. “This is a bit of a homecoming for me and I am very excited to be able to return to Roush Fenway and pick up where we left off in 2015; winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship.

“… This news also brings sadness that my time at JTG Daugherty Racing driving the No. 37 will come to an end in 2019. I am forever grateful to Tad and Jodi Geschickter, Brad Daugherty, and Gordon Smith for giving me the opportunity to drive for them over the past three years.”