Marcos Ambrose to leave Richard Petty Motorsports, returning to native Australia

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JOLIET, Ill. — In a move not necessarily unexpected, Richard Petty Motorsports announced Saturday morning that Marcos Ambrose, driver of the No. 9 Stanley Ford, will not return to the team or NASCAR for the 2015 season.

There have been several months of speculation that Ambrose would be returning to his native Australia after this season, with the likelihood that he’ll return to racing in the Australian V8 SuperCars Series, where he won the championship in 2003 and 2004. He finished third in 2005 before coming to the United States to begin his NASCAR career the following season (2006) in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

A team source said the organization is looking at two or three different candidates to fill Ambrose’s seat. Immediate speculation includes Nationwide and Sprint Cup series veterans Sam Hornish Jr., Elliott Sadler and David Ragan,  as well as perhaps a younger driver currently in the Nationwide or Camping World Truck Series.

Ambrose, who just turned 38 on Sept. 1, has been rumored to potentially drive next season in the V8 Supercars series for a new team that would include full or co-ownership by current NASCAR and IndyCar owner Roger Penske.

MORE: Report: Deal for Marcos Ambrose’ return to Australia to race V8 Supercars for Roger Penske may be close

MORE: Report: Will Marcos Ambrose return to native Australia and V8 Supercars to race for Roger Penske?

The move was not necessarily a surprise. Petty somewhat predicted it back in January, telling MotorSportsTalk, “I don’t know how much longer he wants to stay in the U.S. You know, (Ambrose has) come a long way. He’s sort of a hero in Australia just because he’s running Cup. His big deal is if he could win on a round and around racetrack, that would be the optimum for him. If he did do that, he’d probably just go home and say, ‘Thank you guys,’ but I don’t know.”

MORE: Marcos Ambrose: Not looking to leave U.S. or Richard Petty Motorsports

Here is Saturday’s official statement from the team on Ambrose’s pending departure:

“Richard Petty Motorsports announced today that the No. 9 team will move forward with a new driver in 12015. Marcos Ambrose, who has been with RPM since 2011, has informed the organization that he will return to his native home of Australia in 2015. This was a personal decision by Ambrose.

“At this time RPM is currently evaluating several driver opportunities to help the No. 9 team (going) forward and will make a future announcement at the appropriate time.

“Richard Petty, co-owner of Richard Petty Motorsports, is thankful for Ambrose and his dedication to the team:

“Marcos will always be part of our extended racing family,” Petty said. “He came over to the United States with his family and dedicated his time here to giving it the best he had each week. I couldn’t ask anything more from Marcos and his commitment on and off of the track to our race team and our partners. Away from the track, he’s a family person first. That’s something I respect and we’ll miss Marcos, (his wife) Sonja and their children.”

Ambrose has made 217 career starts in the Sprint Cup Series, has two wins (both at Watkins Glen International), 18 top-five and 44 top-10 finishes. He also has made 77 starts in the Nationwide Series, with five wins, nine top-five and 18 top-10 showings.

While Ambrose’s contract runs through the end of the current season, it’s unclear whether he will complete the remainder of this season or potentially leave the team early to begin preparations for the next chapter of his racing career.

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Chip Ganassi to be honored in Petersen Museum exhibit

Joe Skibinski / IndyCar
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This Saturday, the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles will debut a new exhibit honoring one of the most successful teams in American motorsports.

Titled “Chip Ganassi Racing: Fast Tracks to Success | 30th Anniversary Tribute,” the exhibit will display several significant cars, trophies, and other artifacts from CGR’s storied racing history. Ganassi will formally be honored April 15, 2020 at the Petersen’s Annual Racers Night before the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Dario Franchitti’s 2010 Dallara IR-05. Photo Kahn Media

Vehicles displayed in the exhibit will include the 1983 Patrick Wildcat MK9B raced by Chip Ganassi to his best finish in the Indianapolis 500, the Lexus-powered Riley MK X1 raced by Scott Dixon in the 2006 24 Hours of Daytona, the Dallara IR-05 driven to victory by Dario Franchitti in the 2010 Indianapolis 500, the Ford GT that finished first in the LM GTE category at the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 driven by Kurt Busch in the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series.

“Chip Ganassi is an influential member of the automotive community, and his team’s penchant for success is a reflection of his raw skill and passion for the sport,” said Petersen Automotive Museum Executive Director Terry L. Karges. “Complemented by a visually dynamic and compelling 180-degree video, ‘Chip Ganassi Racing’ will celebrate the team’s victories and tell its story while taking visitors on a trip down memory lane.” 

“Chip Ganassi Racing: Fast Tracks to Success | 30th Anniversary Tribute” will run through January 31, 2021. The museum will host a ticketed opening reception on December 13. More information on the Petersen Museum can be found at www.petersen.org.

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