Ricky Stenhouse unsure of ride

Updated: October 12, 2011, 3:49 PM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Ricky Stenhouse, the reigning Nationwide Series rookie of the year and current points leader, says his future after this season is unclear because of sponsorship woes at Roush Fenway Racing.

"I have no idea," Stenhouse said Wednesday when asked what he'll be driving in 2012.

Stenhouse has been driving an unsponsored car in the Nationwide Series for much of this season, and still is unsponsored for the November race at Phoenix.

He said his future depends in part on whether RFR can find sponsorship for the No. 17 Cup car of Matt Kenseth and possibly the No. 6 Cup car currently driven by David Ragan.

"I know I'm going to be racing something," Stenhouse said during a promotion for Friday's Nationwide breast cancer awareness race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. "I'm just not sure if it's going to be another full-time Nationwide deal.

"I know right now they have to get sponsorship for Matt's car. If they get sponsorship for Matt's car, it'll kind of open up the door for whatever else we're doing. If I had a choice, I'd like to run another full year of Nationwide and part-time in Cup."

RFR president Steve Newmark said the organization will decide in the next month whether to stay with four Cup teams or shrink to three. Depending on that, the formula for the Nationwide series could range from zero to two teams.

Newmark didn't rule out that Stenhouse could split a ride in the Cup series with Ragan in an unsponsored or partially sponsored No. 6. Stenhouse was reminded that team owner Jack Roush fielded an unsponsored car for Jeff Burton several years ago.

"To have one car unsponsored, I think Jack would probably keep it going," Stenhouse said. "Right now, we've got to get at least one of them sponsored. You can't have two Cup cars out there unsponsored, for sure."

Typically, a driver who wins rookie of the year and a Nationwide title is set for a future in Cup, but with sponsorship problems throughout the sport, Stenhouse understands that's not guaranteed.

"It's tough, especially when you just (heard) Dollar General signed with Joe Gibbs (Racing) to do Brian Scott's Nationwide car and join Joey (Logano)'s Cup car," Stenhouse said. "There are people out there that are going to want to do this. It's just frustrating we don't have anything now."

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

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

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