Rumors had been floating around the NASCAR Sprint Cup Garage for the past few months that Richard Petty Motorsports driver, Marcos Ambrose was in his last year in NASCAR, choosing to go back to Australia instead.
Those rumors proved to be true as this weekend at the Chicagoland Speedway, Ambrose announced his intentions to return to Australia for his family, and children specifically to experience Aussie life.
Details about Ambrose’s future career moves once back down under are likely to be announced tomorrow during a call RPM has already setup.
Beyond Ambrose’s future plans, the other question is the future for the RPM No. 9 team. Stanley Tools/Dewalt has already announced their plans to move over to Toyota-based Joe Gibbs Racing, supporting their new fourth team, the No. 19 driven by Carl Edwards, along with JGR teammate Matt Kenseth for select races.
Assuming that Richard Petty Motorsports though can find replacement sponsorship to still run the No. 9 team full time in the Cup series, then the question becomes who will be driving it?
Two names come to mind — both of which have a past relationship with Ford Racing.
The most likely name is current Front Row Motorsports driver David Ragan. The 28 year-old, raced for Roush Fenway Racing a few years back and while he has a win at Front Row Motorsports, moving to Richard Petty Motorsports could be a step up, even if not to the level he once experienced at RFR. Ragan was pretty quick to leave his options for 2015.
The other guy who doesn’t have a full-time ride and would be a good performer for RPM is former Penske driver, Sam Hornish, Jr. Last year, Hornish was in the running for the 2013 Nationwide title, finishing up second to Austin Dillon. But without sponsorship in 2014, Hornish was without a full time ride. For 2014, he’s in the JGR No. 54 part time, running races where Kyle Busch is not in the seat. Even with the limited schedule, Hornish has come home with a win, taking the checkered flag at Iowa Speedway back in May.
Hornish most likely would jump at a chance for a full time ride, especially in the Sprint Cup series. He could give the No. 9 a respectable run in 2015.
Regardless, before Regan or Hornish could climb into the seat, Richard Petty Motorsports has to find sponsorship for next year — not always an easy task in motorsports. Assuming sponsorship is secured though, expect to see Regan or Hornish in RPM’s second car next year. Otherwise, the no. 43 may be the only representation week in and week out in both the cup and Nationwide… err Comcast Xfinity Series.