Late Wednesday morning Richard Petty Motorsports announced, what has been widely expected, that they’ve signed Sam Hornish Jr. to drive the #9 Ford Fusion for the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. RPM said it was a multi-year deal for Hornish, although the team is still looking for sponsorship. It has a partial sponsorship from Twisted Tea for 2015 currently lined up, with the 2014 sponsorship of Stanley and Dewalt leaving to move to Joe Gibbs Racing at the end of the season.
Hornish Jr. will replace Marcos Ambrose, who announced last month that he was moving back to his native Australia to compete in the V8 Super Cars. Ambrose is a two-time champion in the V8 Super Cars Series and will drive for Team Penske.
“This is a great opportunity to join Richard Petty Motorsports and the #9 Ford team in the Sprint Cup Series,” said Hornish Jr. “Owners Richard Petty, Andrew Murstein and Doug Bergeron have built this organization into a championship-contending team with world-class sponsors and partners.”
“To be able to drive for Richard Petty now is just awesome,” Hornish Jr. said; who has made at least one start in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series every year since 2007. “Many people have noticed the progress being made here and I’m ready to build off this momentum.”
Hornish Jr. began racing go-karts at age 11, but would go on to race in the big league as a driver in the Indy Racing League in 2000 with PDM Racing. Hornish Jr. would finish the season 21st in the standings, and in the 2001 he would join Panther Racing where he won consecutive championships in 2001 and 2002, but in 2003 he would finish his final season with Panther Racing 5th in the standings.
Hornish Jr. moved to Team Penske, owned by the Roger Penske, in 2004. He would win both the Series Championship and the Indianapolis 500 for the 2006 season. In eight years racing Indy cars, Hornish Jr. won the coveted Indy 500, as well as 3 championships and 19 races.
Hornish Jr. would first move into NASCAR driving in the Nationwide Series for Penske in 2006, and in 2009 made his first full-time ride at the Sprint Cup Series level, in 2008 he failed to qualify for 2 races of the season, after the 2010 season Penske would move him back to the Nationwide Series after the primary sponsor Mobil 1 left Penske racing.
After the 2013 season Hornish would be without a ride after finishing as the 2013 runner-up in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. This season Hornish Jr. would make eight starts for Joe Gibbs Racing, despite having many offers, he commented that he would rather wait out for a good, competitive situation rather than rush to take just any job.
“I’ve worked four years to get back to this point and I feel like I’ve come a long way,” Hornish said. “I’ve found my voice, really, as far as what you need to have as far as a Cup driver is concerned.
Hornish Jr. best ever finish was at Pocono in 2009 where he finished 4th. Hornish Jr. will be paired with crew chief Drew Blickensderfer, who has three Sprint Cup Series wins.