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Ricky Stenhouse to drive No. 17 in 2013

Jay Hart
Yahoo Sports

JOLIET, Ill. – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will drive the No. 17 in the 2013 Sprint Cup season, Roush Fenway Racing announced Friday at Chicagoland Speedway.

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Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Getty Images)

Stenhouse, the defending Nationwide Series champion, takes the seat vacated by Matt Kenseth, who officially announced earlier this month he's leaving the only team he's ever known for Joe Gibbs Racing. Team owner Jack Roush pegged the 24-year-old Stenhouse as Kenseth's heir apparent months ago. Stenhouse will have big shoes to fill. Kenseth gave Roush his first championship and won 22 Cup races in 13 seasons.

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"Ricky is a very lucky young driver because he is able now to step in to a mature team," Roush said. "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 that leaves a spot open, he is very lucky to have that.

Roush Fenway also announced Best Buy, Fifth Third Bank and Zest have "increased" their commitment for 2013, adding that "the majority of Stenhouse's races for 2013 are fully sponsored." That's a positive step for the team that struggled to find full funding for Kenseth, despite his high profile and success on the track.

"[Ricky] says he's going to lean on us a little bit," teammate Carl Edwards said. "I hope he means figuratively, because he's a hard racer."

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