Return of the Geek Squad

Matt Kenseth, driver of the #17 Best Buy Ford, looks on in the garage during practcie for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on September 14, 2012 in Joliet, Illinois. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images for NASCAR)

JOLIET, Ill. — Best Buy will return as the anchor sponsor of the No. 17 Ford at Roush Fenway Racing next season, but with a different driver behind the wheel, the organization announced Friday at Chicagoland Speedway.

The electronics and appliance retailer will sponsor the 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion in 12 Cup races, as Stenhouse competes in his first full season in NASCAR’s foremost series. Best Buy also will sponsor the No. 99 Ford of Carl Edwards in four Cup races.

Fifth Third Bank and Zest also will return as primary sponsors for the No. 17 car, which has approximately 70 percent of its inventory filled for 2013. Veteran Jimmy Fennig is expected to remain with the 17 car as Stenhouse’s crew chief, though team owner Jack Roush reserves the right to change personnel.

“Ricky is a very lucky young driver, because he is able now to step into a mature team,” Roush said Friday at Chicagoland. “Regardless of how the personnel winds up being distributed next year, he winds up taking one of the three seats at our table — which have been very good seats based on the work that (general manager) Robbie Reiser has done on the manufacturing side, and all the crew chiefs at the race track.

“Unlike a lot of rookies that have to wait their time to either grow a team that can give them what they need, or to find a senior driver that backs away (and) leaves a spot open, he is very lucky to have that. Roush Fenway and Best Buy and Zest and Fifth Third are very lucky to have Ricky — Ricky is going to make a statement in this business.”

Stenhouse is fighting for his second straight Nationwide title in Roush Fenway’s No. 6 Ford. He trails series leader Elliott Sadler by one point with eight races left.


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