Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to drive at Daytona

Updated: January 12, 2012, 11:39 AM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Defending Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will drive the No. 6 for Roush Fenway Racing in the Daytona 500.

Stenhouse, at Daytona International Speedway on Thursday to participate in a three-day Sprint Cup test, said he was told of the decision last week.

The No. 6 team was shut down after last season due to a lack of sponsorship, and driver David Ragan asked for his release from RFR to pursue other offers.

However, the car is guaranteed a spot in the 500 based on Ragan finishing in the top 35 in owners' points last season. He was 23rd in the driver standings.

"I'm excited," Stenhouse said Thursday. "Being on the grid for the race, seeing all the fans that come out to this race ... I was here last year just watching, but to actually be a part of the show is going to be pretty unreal."

There had been talk of running the No. 6 in the first five races because it is guaranteed a starting spot, with the hope that sponsorship could be found for more races. Stenhouse said the plan for now is to run only the 500.

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com

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ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter