ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Five options to replace Marcos Ambrose with Richard Petty Motorsports

Updated on September 14, 2014
Is Sam Hornish Jr. the man for the job?
Is Sam Hornish Jr. the man for the job? | Source

Marcos Ambrose announced on Saturday that he would not be returning to NASCAR in 2015, opening up a competitive Sprint Cup ride for next season. RPM has already indicated that they plan on running Ambrose's #9 car full time next year. The team faces an interesting decision. They could go with a veteran hand, someone who understands how to get speed out of the car and generally brings the chassis home in one piece. On the other hand, they could choose to get behind an up-and-coming driver- someone who could be a boon to the company or a bust on the track. Which way will the King go? Another Left Turn looks at five possible options.

Armstrong is already employed by RPM and could be promoted to the Cup level
Armstrong is already employed by RPM and could be promoted to the Cup level | Source

1. Dakoda Armstrong (current team: Richard Petty Motorsports)

Like many other companies, NASCAR teams generally want to promote from within where possible. So if RPM decides to do so with the #9 car, Dakoda Armstrong is the logical choice. Armstrong is in his first season running the team's #43 Nationwide car. It's also Armstrong's first full time Nationwide season after completing his first Camping World Truck season in 2013. While Dakoda hasn't set the world on fire, he's shown glimpses of his ability with top ten finishes at Mid Ohio and Richmond.

To be fair, Armstrong probably isn't ready for a full time Sprint Cup season right now. He ran a single full season in the trucks (plus parts of two others) and has yet to finish his first Nationwide season. Rushing drivers to the Cup car before they're ready can sometimes do more harm than good. But at 23 years of age, his best NASCAR seasons are undoubtedly ahead. If RPM truly views Armstrong as a future Sprint Cup driver, they may as well find out what they have and let him learn his trade sooner rather than later.

2. David Ragan (current team: Front Row Motorsports)

Early speculation has already placed Ragan as one of the most likely drivers to take over Ambrose's team. He's a long-time Ford driver so he's a familiar face to the manufacturer and the engine department. He's also a former Roush Fenway Racing driver and RFR provides equipment and technical support to the Petty team. He's a comfortable choice to all involved as Ragan will not make waves, be competitive most weekends and a threat to win at the plate tracks.

It's also worth noting that despite his extensive Sprint Cup experience, Ragan is still relatively young. He will be 29 in December yet is in his eighth season as a full time Cup driver. His time at RFR was not as successful as the team had hoped but following Mark Martin was a thankless task for any driver- much less someone in their early 20's still learning their trade as a stock car racer. Ragan is one of the few drivers available who combines both veteran experience and a youth that a team and sponsor can build a future with.

3. Sam Hornish Jr. (current team: None)

Hornish would make a very interesting choice for Richard Petty Motorsports. He hasn't run full time at the Sprint Cup since replacing AJ Allmendinger at Penske Racing in 2012 (and was subsequently replaced by Joey Logano at season's end). He finished second in the Nationwide season standings a year ago yet wasn't able to find a ride at any NASCAR level this year. His three year stint as a Penske cup driver between 2008-2010 led to a lot of wrecked race cars and angry fellow drivers. Why bring aboard a 35 year old driver with that track record?

What makes Hornish attractive is that he appears to have turned the corner as a stock car racer. Yes, he struggled early in transitioning from open wheel racing to NASCAR. But the reputation doesn't match the recent results. In his last 73 Nationwide races (2012-14), Hornish has only four DNFs and all were a result of engine or car failure. He has four top five finishes in seven Nationwide events this year after 16 (and a win) a season ago. His release from Penske Racing came not because of a lack of talent or poor results but a numbers game that we looked at a year ago (Up or out: The dilemma facing Sam Hornish Jr.). If RPM wants a driver at the top of his game, Hornish may well be the best available person for the job.

Hornish pulls out a Nationwide win at Iowa Speedway

Smith has had a lot to celebrate in his time with JR Motorsports
Smith has had a lot to celebrate in his time with JR Motorsports | Source

4. Regan Smith (current team: JR Motorsports)

Smith's performance for JR Motorsports over the past two years has proven that he deserves another chance at the Sprint Cup level. He has three wins and 41 top ten finishes in 59 races plus another win in his sole 2012 race for the team. He finished third in points a year ago and is a title contender again this year. For the first time in his career, Smith is in equipment equal to the rest of the field and his talent is shining through.

Regan also has a number of things working in his favor. At 30 years of age, Regan is an excellent blend of racing experience and good years ahead. His 2011 Southern 500 win at Darlington remains the sole win for Furniture Row Racing. He's also been the go-to guy for Sprint Cup teams needing someone to step in right away, replacing Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart in spot events over the past two years. The only drawback may be that Smith is a long-time Team Chevy driver. Yet the manufacturer has no obvious openings at the Cup level and Regan may well decide that a chance to step back up is worth the change.

Stenhouse has made more headlines with his personal life than he has on-track in his Sprint Cup career
Stenhouse has made more headlines with his personal life than he has on-track in his Sprint Cup career | Source

5. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (current team: Roush Fenway Racing)

While Stenhouse is under contract with RFR and sponsored through 2015, it would not be impossible to see him move to RPM next season. After winning back to back Nationwide titles in 2011-12, Stenhouse's Cup career to date has to be classified as a disappointment. He finished a distant 19th in points last year and has regressed this year. His average finish has dropped from 18.9 to 22.6, landing on the lead lap of only 11 of the 26 regular season events. Roush has a lot invested in Stenhouse but at some point the results have to justify that investment.

The movement of Stenhouse to RPM could be done in a number of different ways that protect RFR's long term investment. The team has essentially loaned out Trevor Bayne to the Wood Brothers since 2011. Bayne will run full time for RFR next year and will benefit from the experience he gained running for the fellow Ford team. Roush could reach a similar agreement with RPM, giving Stenhouse a chance to prove himself while not directly risking RFR equipment and results. Moreover, sometimes a change in teams is exactly what a young driver needs to find themselves (see Logano, Joey) and break the burden of high expectations.

Need more NASCAR news and opinion?

Another Left Turn columns on hubpages at
Contact me via email at
Follow me on Twitter at

Now it's your turn!

What kind of driver should RPM pick to replace Ambrose in 2015?

See results


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Why is it that RPM camt attract a top shelf driver? Could it be that the Edwards and Newmans etc of NASCAR have no faith in the direction of RPM? This is hoe PE was being run before they went under. On the cheap.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Sam hornish is the best avaiable driver. He knows how to win big races, such as the indianapolis 500. The sprint showdown, phoenix, las vegas, iowa. Not too shabby.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Michael Annett! He raced with RPM last year, and this year he had some very good races with TBR.

    • profile image

      Josh B 

      5 years ago

      No way the Stenhouse scenario would happen. My first thought when hearing the news of Ambrose officially moving on was Regan Smith; was surprised to hear Ragan was the favorite, though he's a guy I wanted to see get the Furniture Row ride last season. My money is on Smith or Ragan for the reasons you mention.

    • profile image

      Carl D. 

      5 years ago

      My vote is for Hornish

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I feel like the king should give Johanna Long a shot at the #9. Raw real racer to the core.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Ragan did well his first year driving a white AAA car (11th in point if I remember). UPS insisted that he drive an invisible car (UPS colors - almost impossible to see on the track which means more fender benders) until last year when they allowed enough visibility that you could find the car on TV (but I'm thinking it still blended in if you were driving behind the car). Jarrett had been smart enough to require a white car.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      At what point will Hendrick Motorsports ask Richard Petty Motorsports for the number 9 for Chase Elliott when Chase takes over the 24 car?


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)