Hornish Jr. to drive for Richard Petty Motorsports in Sprint Cup

Concord, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - Sam Hornish Jr. is heading back to the Sprint Cup Series full time in 2015.

Richard Petty Motorsports announced on Wednesday that Hornish will join the racing organization to drive the No. 9 Ford in Sprint Cup next season. He will replace Marcos Ambrose in the No. 9 after Ambrose informed the team last month that he is returning to his native home of Australia at season's end to compete in the Australian V8 Supercar Series, driving an entry for NASCAR and IndyCar Series team owner Roger Penske.

Hornish has not competed in Sprint Cup full time since 2010 when he drove for Team Penske.

"Having the opportunity to drive for Richard Petty Motorsports is great for me," Hornish said during a teleconference on Wednesday. "It's just awesome. I'm looking forward to knowing all the guys on the No. 9 team and everybody at RPM."

Hornish has competed in three full seasons in Sprint Cup as well as two full seasons in the Nationwide Series for Penske. In 2013, he finished second in the Nationwide championship standings, just three points behind champion Austin Dillon. Hornish has driven a partial schedule for Joe Gibbs Racing in NASCAR's second-tier series this season. He won at Iowa Speedway in May.

Prior to his stock car racing career, Hornish competed in IndyCar, winning 19 races, including the 2006 Indianapolis 500, and claiming three series championships.

Hornish has 131 career starts in Sprint Cup, including one start this season. He substituted for Denny Hamlin in JGR's No. 11 car in the March 23 race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Hamlin missed the event due to an eye injury. Hornish finished 17th.

"I feel like I'm a lot better prepared," Hornish said of his upcoming full- time return to Sprint Cup. "I've been able to work with quite a few different crew chiefs over the past couple of years. That has allowed me to better understand what's going through those guys' heads and pick up things that I like from one crew chief to the next."

Drew Blickensderfer will serve as Hornish's crew chief next year. Blickensderfer currently serves in the role for Ambrose.

"Sam is a really good fit for RPM and will be a great addition to the team," team co-owner Richard Petty said. "He's a family man who fits well with our core values, and he will be a great ambassador for our partners. Sam is also proven that he can win races and compete for a championship. 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."