Richard Petty Motorsports announced today that Marcos Ambrose has signed a multi-year agreement to drive its No. 9 Ford Fusion with backing from Stanley tools for much of the 2011 schedule. Ambrose and Stanley replace Kasey Kahne and sponsor Budweiser on the No. 9, with Kahne set to join Red Bull Racing and Bud announcing earlier today that it would move to Kevin Harvick's Richard Childress Racing entry for 2011.
"Naturally, today is a huge step for my career, a wonderful opportunity, and I'm very, very excited to announce it," said the Australian, who announced last month that he was leaving the JTG squad. “I'm very, very excited to announce that for 2011 a multi-year contract with RPM driving the 9 car with Stanley on board for a majority of the season at this point. I'm very, very excited about the relationship with Ford – to be back intact. I've been a Ford driver for many years and it's just great to be back in the Ford family. To be associated with Richard Petty and the Gillett family and everybody associated at RPM, it's just a dream opportunity for me"
Ambrose had suggested earlier that he might give up on NASCAR and return to Australian racing, but indicated that landing another Sprint Cup ride was always his first choice.
"Naturally, I came to America to race NASCAR and when I came I wanted to win," he said. "I feel like this new position, driving the 9 car, will give me the very best opportunity to do that, and the best chance that I've had so far to consistently run at the front and get the car to Victory Lane.
“It's been a wild month, no doubt about it. I had made no secret that I felt like I needed to make a change to get the most out of myself and get an opportunity at the very top level of NASCAR, to just try and change things up and see if I can find out that missing link. It's no secret that I can run pretty good on the road courses, but on the ovals I'm not consistent enough to run at the front.
"When we agreed to part ways with JTG, that was a difficult day, but then the real work started. I picked up the phone and started making phone calls. With the help of Ford, I was able to get talking to RPM and very quickly we realized that we both were very interested to work together. We worked diligently and very rapidly to try and put this together to make it right and I'm just very excited. Luckily, Stanley was obviously watching what I was doing and when my named popped up in the ring, we were able to get to this point very, very quickly. When things are right, they normally happen easily like this and that's what makes me so excited. All the stars have aligned and come together rapidly to make it happen, and when you get moments like that, it's easy to feel good about the situation and I just can't wait to get started.”
Ambrose indicated that RPM's multi-car approach was an attraction for him.
“The direction that the team went ahead in, of course, is to run competitive championship chase-contending teams. Right now, AJ [Allmendinger] and myself are signed up. The future is set for us two. There are a lot more exciting announcements to be made here over the next few days, weeks and months, and it's really not my position to expand on that, but I feel really good about the future of RPM. I feel great about where they're heading and the direction they're taking with their program. They've got a great technical partnership with Roush and Ford Racing, and they're in good hands. I think they have a very healthy future coming up.
“No disrespect to JTG/Daugherty or Toyota or anyone involved in my existing Cup program, but we were a one-car team with a good partnership with Michael Waltrip Racing. We had issues to deal with that other teams don't, so I'm not sure why we haven't contended better on the intermediate ovals and above. We all see what happens on the road courses and Bristol and superspeedways, but we haven't been fast enough and consistent enough on the ovals and it's a question that needs to be answered.
"I think that's the primary reason why I thought I needed to make a change. Was it me? Was it the situation with the partnership? Was it the one-car team? What was it that was the deficit, so with this team and the resources they have and the people they have around them, will allow me to answer those questions. I believe that I'm as good as anybody out there and can win four championships just like Jimmie Johnson has done because I believe in myself, but until you can get to a point where you can prove or disprove what you've got, it's very hard to be sure. We'll find out in 2011.”
Ambrose is currently in his second full season in the Sprint Cup series but his results have proved below par relative to 2009, when he scored four top-five finishes and seven top-10 results, which placed him 18th in the final drivers' standing. This year he targeted a place in the Chase but he currently ranks 26th in the points with just one top-five to his name, achieved two weeks ago at Watkins Glen, where he was beaten to victory by Juan Pablo Montoya following a race-long battle.
Ambrose came close to Cup win at Sonoma also, but stalled his car while trying to save fuel in the closing stages of the race being the leader. However, he has won three times in the Nationwide Series, with consecutive victories at Watkins Glen in the last three years.