CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Richard Petty Motorsports insisted Wednesday it is committed to running two cars in 2015 despite losing driver Marcos Ambrose and primary sponsor Stanley in the span of five days.
Ambrose said last weekend he is returning to his native Australia and will run V8 Supercars for Roger Penske. His sponsor, Stanley, said Wednesday it is moving to Joe Gibbs Racing to sponsor Carl Edwards for 12 races. Stanley brand DeWalt will sponsor Matt Kenseth for six races.
”We are excited to build new partnerships on the No. 9 team,” said Brian Moffitt, president and CEO of Richard Petty Motorsports. ”We have a vision that our ownership group and sponsors support and believe in. We have built upon that vision in two short years to become championship eligible. It’s that belief that will help us support the No. 9 team.”
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Aric Almirola this season qualified for the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship in RPM’s No. 43 Ford. The team is looking for a driver and sponsor to take over the No. 9 Ford. RPM said it will continue its relationship with current manufacturer partner Ford Racing and continue its services contract with Roush Fenway Racing and Roush Yates Engines.
Twisted Tea Brewing Co. will continue its primary sponsorship of the No. 9 team in 2015 as the RPM marketing and new business team continues various discussions with several companies, the team said.
”We’re proud of our relationship with Richard Petty Motorsports and feel they have done a great job and are competitive every weekend as evident by making the Chase this season,” said Jamie Allison, director of Ford Racing. ”Both the No. 9 and No. 43 teams have shown strength throughout this season and we expect that will only continue next season and beyond.”
STENHOUSE-OLE MISS: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. used a rare day off to visit the Ole Miss campus and spend time with the football team and coach Hugh Freeze.
Stenhouse, from Olive Branch, Mississippi, grew up an Ole Miss fan and first met Freeze when the two played together in June during the FedEx St. Jude pro-am in Memphis. That day led to Tuesday’s visit to Ole Miss, where Stenhouse presented Freeze with a firesuit and was given a No. 17 jersey.
Stenhouse also played catch with quarterback Bo Wallace, and went through some drills.
”Coach Freeze is a big NASCAR fan,” said Stenhouse, who talked racing with Freeze when they golfed together. ”We got to spend some time together when we walked the fairways. We really hit it off. He loves talking football, racing or golf. I’m a big fan of him and what he’s doing at Ole Miss and him as a person.”
The conversation inevitably turned to girlfriend Danica Patrick, who attended his first Ole Miss game on Aug. 28 with Stenhouse. He said the two will be in attendance at the Egg Bowl against Mississippi State in November.
And, Stenhouse said all was well with the couple following their on-track collision late in Sunday’s race at Chicagoland Speedway. Patrick initially said over her radio that Stenhouse had hit her as she raced Tony Stewart for position, but she later said she was unaware of where her boyfriend was on the track and blamed the incident on miscommunication with her spotter.
”Obviously, it’s a little bit different crashing with her,” he said. ”But when you crash with anybody, you end up talking to that person throughout the week about what you could have done different and what they could have done different. So we talked about it, figured it out.”
CFH-CHEVROLET: The merged team between Ed Carpenter and Sarah Fisher Hartman racing will use Chevrolet engines and aero kits during next year’s IndyCar season.
Carpenter had been using Chevrolets since forming his own team before the 2012 season. Fisher was a Honda entrant.
Chevrolet has won three consecutive IndyCar manufacturer championships since returning to the series in 2012.
”Team Chevy has delivered for ECR over the past three years, and I know that our new combination of CFH Racing and Chevrolet will continue to put us in a great position moving forward,” Carpenter said.
Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing was established in 2008 with Fisher as the driver. Businessman Wink Hartman became a co-owner in 2011.
”Being a part of the Chevy family in the past, I am looking forward to rejoining their organization,” said Fisher. ”The decision to partner CFH Racing with Chevrolet was the first of many that we will make together as a team. The process was sincerely a group effort and encourages all of us as to how we will work as a team.”
WHELDON-KARTING CHALLENGE: At least eight IndyCar drivers are scheduled to compete Saturday in the Dan Wheldon Memorial Pro-Am Karting Challenge at New Castle Motorsports Park.
The inaugural event last year raised over $100,000 and was instrumental in establishing The Sue Wheldon Fund, which funds Alzheimer’s programs in Indiana and Florida. The fund was created by Wheldon’s widow, Susie, to keep the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner’s legacy alive.
Wheldon was killed in the 2011 IndyCar season finale. His mother, Sue, suffered from Alzheimer’s.
”Dan was so giving of his time and resources,” said Susie Wheldon. ”I was completely blown away by the response last year and how much money we were able to raise and ultimately to be able to start a fund in Sue’s name.
”I knew I had to make this an annual event and maybe one day our boys Sebastian and Oliver can participate. Dan will always be remembered as someone who had an immense passion for life and I want to carry on his legacy in the same way. I feel blessed to be able to give back.”
Scheduled to compete are former Indianapolis 500 winners Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan, as well as Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Briscoe, Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter and Sebastian Saavedra.
Wheldon’s 5-year-old son, Sebastian, started racing karts in April and will lead the field on a pace lap before the start of the race.
BOSTON-KENTUCKY: Justin Boston will make his first career Nationwide Series start this Saturday night when he drives the No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing at Kentucky.
Boston is also scheduled to drive the car next week at Dover.
Boston, who is 25, is in his second ARCA season driving for Venturini Motorsports. He was rookie of the year last season and has two ARCA wins this year.
He tested recently with crew chief Kevin Kidd to prepare for his two starts.
”I thought that it went really well,” he said. ”I was able to work with Kevin and the No. 20 team during that test, so we already have some chemistry going. There’s quite a difference of course between the speeds reached in an ARCA car versus a Nationwide Series car, but I think we will be successful in getting me acclimated to those differences the more time I have behind the wheel.”
ARCA-KENTUCKY: A couple of NASCAR K&N Series drivers will race in the ARCA event at Kentucky Speedway on Friday.
Daniel Suarez, who won the first two NASCAR K&N East races of the season, will make his ARCA Racing Series debut. Ben Rhodes, who won the NASCAR K&N East championship this season, is also entered.
Rhodes is from nearby Louisville, Kentucky, and said he always dreamed of graduating from the legends races on the quarter mile to the big track.
”I remember it like it was yesterday – driving past this track in the RV with the family going to the next go-kart race,” Rhodes said. ”To finally be racing here on the big track is a dream come true.”