Special to the Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne both had their eyes on the No. 99 NASCAR Sprint Cup car, knowing that if Carl Edwards left Roush Fenway Racing, they would have been considered for that ride in 2012.
With Edwards now staying at Roush Fenway, they likely face another year of full-time Nationwide Series competition-with Bayne returning to the Wood Brothers Racing team (where he has run a limited Cup schedule this season) and Stenhouse hoping for an opportunity somewhere.
Both drivers are under contract for 2012 with Roush Fenway.
"You're never disappointed to keep a good teammate that is going to help you, especially one you get along with really well," said Bayne, 21, who won the 2011 Daytona 500. "But when you have two development drivers running strong, sometimes you want to see a seat open up.
"But it's going to be good for our sponsors and partners we have at Roush Fenway; it's going to be good to keep those guys around and the Wood Brothers car is still there. I love driving that car."
Stenhouse, 23, has two Nationwide Series victories this year and leads the standings by 12 points over Reed Sorenson. Stenhouse could see some Cup time next year if Roush Fenway opts to run a fifth car for up to seven races (he could do that as a rookie) or if Richard Petty Motorsports opts to expand its Cup operation.
"Right now we have no idea," Stenhouse said. "Obviously if Carl was leaving, just from hearing it from everybody else, it sounded like somebody was going to have to run the 99 but they never talked to me for sure about it.
"We're just focused on the (Nationwide) championship. ... The ideal situation for myself is to run another full season in Nationwide and a part-time Cup deal. I don't want to jump in too early and kind of get in over my head."
Bayne and Stenhouse were at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Tuesday to help promote the fall schedule at the track. The fifth race of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup is Oct. 15 at Charlotte; a Nationwide race is the night before.