Report: Sam Hornish Jr. to drive No. 9 Petty car in 2015

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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).

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”