JOLIET, Ill. – Richard Petty Motorsports announced on Saturday that Marcos Ambrose would not be returning to the team or NASCAR for the 2015 season.
Just over 24 hours later, Team Penske announced that it has hired Ambrose to compete for the V8 Supercars championship in his native Australia next season.
“Team Penske is excited to partner with Dick Johnson Racing to compete in the V8 Supercars Championship starting next season,” team owner Roger Penske said in a media release.
Dick Johnson Racing is an existing Supercars organization of which Penske will become a significant investor in.
“We believe in building our businesses through racing and our success on the track,” Penske said. “With our new business ventures in Australia, it makes sense to showcase our brands through the V8 Supercars Championship and the opportunity to work with DJR and Marcos Ambrose convinced us to go forward.”
It will be three-pronged homecoming for Ambrose, who turned 38 two weeks ago:
First, he’ll be returning to his native Australia.
Second, he’ll also be returning to the same racing series in which he won championships in 2003 and 2004, and finished third in 2005 before moving to the U.S. to begin his NASCAR career.
Third, he’ll remain in the Ford camp, as he was with RPM, driving the No. 17 Ford in the Supercars series.
The Team Penske release referred to Ambrose as “a true hero of Australian motorsports behind the wheel.” In 65 Supercars races between 2001 to 2005, Ambrose won nearly half (28).
A native of Launceston, Tasmania, Ambrose leaves NASCAR having earned a combined seven wins and eight pole positions in the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series over the past nine seasons.
“This is a great opportunity to return home to a place that I love in a Series where I’ve experienced a lot of success,” Ambrose said. “It will be an honor to race for two motorsport legends in Roger Penske and Dick Johnson.”
The media release also noted that “Team Penske has produced more than 400 race wins and 26 national championships in its storied history, while DJR has earned over 80 victories and seven Australian Touring Car/V8 Supercar titles in over 35 years of racing.”
Johnson is a five-time Australian Touring Car champion, and also won the prestigious Bathurst 1000 three different times. He retired from racing in 1999 to field his own race team.
“We are certainly looking forward to this new challenge,” Johnson said. “I have always admired what Roger Penske has accomplished in business and with his racing teams and it will be a thrill to work with Team Penske and Marcos in 2015.”
A global teleconference is scheduled for Monday evening to give more details of Ambrose’s new deal. The teleconference will include Ambrose, Johnson and Penske. It will also likely be learned whether Ambrose will finish this season with RPM or if he’ll leave early to begin the next phase of his racing career.
Marcos Ambrose V8 Supercar Career Highlights:
* 2003/2004 V8 Supercar Champion.
* 15 round wins from 65 rounds between 2001 and 2005 – 23 percent winning rate.
* 30 podium finishes from those 65 rounds – 46 percent strike rate.
* 18 pole positions from those 65 rounds.
* Winner of 28 individual V8 Supercar Championship races.
* 2001 Bathurst 1000 Pole Sitter (second rookie in history to take pole as a rookie).
* 1 of only 12 multiple champions in Australian Touring Car/V8 Supercar Championship history.
* 1 of only 9 drivers in Australian Touring Car/V8 Supercar Championship history to win back-to-back championships.
* 1 of just 5 drivers to win back-to-back championships in Fords.
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