Sam Hornish Jr. has been confirmed as the new full-time driver of the Richard Petty Motorsports #9 Ford in 2015, meaning that he will take over the race seat from Marcos Ambrose who is returning to his native Australia to compete in V8 Supercars with Penske.

"This is a great opportunity to join Richard Petty Motorsports and the #9 Ford team in the Sprint Cup Series," said Hornish. "Owners Richard Petty, Andrew Murstein and Doug Bergeron have built this organization into a championship contending team with world-class sponsors and partners."

"Sam is a really good fit for RPM and will be a great addition to the team," said NASCAR icon Petty, announcing the multi-year deal with Hornish on Wednesday morning. "He's a family man who fits well with our core values and he will be a great ambassador for our partners.

"Sam's also proven that he can win races and compete for a championship.," Petty added. He came into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with a steep learning curve from open wheel racing, but has shown in the Nationwide Series that he is a winner. We feel that he can get the #9 team to Victory Lane and compete in the Chase for us."

Hornish previously completed three full seasons at Cup level with Penske after moving to NASCAR from the open-wheel IndyCar Series. He won 19 races and also claimed the series championship three times (in 2001, 2002 and 2006) as well as the Indianapolis 500 in 2006.

Sponsorship problems led to the 35-year-old from Defiance, Ohio sitting out much of 2011 before he returned to Cup competition with Penske again as a late-notice substitute for AJ Allmendinger who failed a routine mid-season drugs test. However, the team eventually selected Joey Logano as their full-time replacement driver for the #22 car.

Hornish also had two full seasons in the Nationwide Series in 2012 and 2013, but this season has been limited to just a handful of outings with Joe Gibbs Racing substituting in the #54 car for Kyle Busch. Despite only eight starts during the season, he has nonetheless scored a win at Iowa along with and four top five finishes.

"Many people have noticed to the progress being made here and I'm ready to build off this momentum," said Hornish. "My goal is to put the #9 team in victory lane in 2015 and be a competitor in the Chase."

RPM confirmed that Drew Blickensderfer, who has three Sprint Cup Series victories under his belt, would continue to serve as crew chief for the #9 in 2015. The team added that there were no plans to get Hornish into the car for any of the remaining 2014 races but that they will aim to carry out some track tests completed before the new testing ban comes in at the start of next year.

The Twisted Tea Brewing Company will sponsor Hornish's initial outings in the car, with long-term backing to be determined later after this year's primary sponsors for the car announced last month that they would be moving their support to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2015.

Hand tools provider Stanley Black & Decker will be the primary sponsor for 12 races on Carl Edwards' new #19 Toyota entry, while its subsidiary company DeWalt - an industrial power tools manufacturer - will be the primary sponsor for six events for Matt Kenseth.



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