Sam Hornish Jr. has found his way back to a full-time ride in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
The three-time IndyCar Series champion and former Indianapolis 500 winner has had to make do with a part-time Nationwide Series drive at Joe Gibbs Racing this season after he and Team Penske parted ways following last year’s NNS campaign.
But now comes word from Jim Utter of the Charlotte Observer that Hornish will take over the No. 9 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford next season and replace the outgoing Marcos Ambrose.
With Ambrose set to return home to Australia at season’s end in order to race in V8 Supercars, Hornish has now apparently been tabbed for his second full-time run in Sprint Cup.
RPM representatives have set up a teleconference for tomorrow morning at 11 a.m. ET, which could yield an official announcement.
Hornish last ran full-time in Cup from 2008 to 2010 with Penske, but only collected two Top-5 finishes over that time span. However, a step down to the Nationwide Series allowed Hornish to evolve into a solid stock car racer.
After finishing fourth in the NNS standings in 2012, Hornish chased current Cup rookie Austin Dillon all the way to the end in the 2013 championship before losing out by a mere three points.
That led to Hornish’s current part-time effort with JGR, where he’s been either especially strong (one win at Iowa, two poles, four Top-5s, four Top-10s) or suffering from bad luck (two engine failures and a crash).