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Mike Kelley takes over as Ricky Stenhouse Jr.'s crew chief at Roush Fenway

NNSracing.com

Mike Kelley and Ben Leslie swapped jobs at Roush Fenway Racing, with Kelley taking over as Ricky Stenhouse Jr.'s crew chief and Leslie becoming Roush Fenway's director of competition for its NASCAR Nationwide Series operations.

The change is effective immediately.

"Mike Kelley brings a lot of experience and enthusiasm to the team and I plan on learning as much as I can from him," Stenhouse said in a statement. "We had a good run at Phoenix last week finishing ninth, but the first five races were pretty rough. I’m still new here so I put my faith in (team co-owner) Jack (Roush) and Roush Fenway’s management team when it comes to these kinds of decisions.

"Jack has made changes like this before and has had a lot of success, so I have no reason to doubt him. I’m looking forward to building on last week’s momentum going to Texas and trying to get this CitiFinancial team running back up front where we belong."

Stenhouse, a Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate, posted his best finish of the season last weekend. Before that, Stenhouse had crashed out of two races and had a best finish of 25th. The No. 16 team is 35th in the Nationwide owners standings and will have to make the Texas race via qualifying.

Kelley has been at Roush Fenway since 2002 and has worked as a car chief and crew chief for various teams. He was crew chief for Carl Edwards at the start of 2010 but was moved to competition director when Drew Blickensderfer was moved down from Sprint Cup.

"I am really excited about this new deal," Kelley said. "Ricky has a lot of talent, so I’m looking forward to working with him. I missed working on top of the box with a single group of guys. The other role I was doing is very important and I enjoyed it, but I missed the camaraderie of working with one group of guys. It’s a whole fresh start for me now.

"When I went from David (Ragan) to Carl (Edwards) I had my guys with me and it was a comfortable feeling, but right now I’m starting with a bunch of new guys and a new driver and some different cars, but I think we have a lot of potential. I am really excited about getting to Texas."