Richard Petty Motorsports renews agreement with Ford

Marcos Ambrose, driver of the #9 Black & Decker Ford, talks with a crew member after qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway on October 19, 2012 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Tyler Barrick/Getty Images)

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Richard Petty Motorsports and Ford Motor Company have renewed their owner/manufacturer agreement for the 2013 season, the parties announced Friday.

Accordingly, RPM will field two cars in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series — the No. 9 currently driven by Marcos Ambrose and the No. 43 currently driven by Aric Almirola. Neither driver has signed a contract for 2013, though Ambrose says he and RPM are close to a deal.

“We’re all squared away as far as what the expectations are on both sides, and it’s just a matter of finishing it off at this point,” Ambrose said Friday at Kansas Speedway. “I can’t see any reason why I wouldn’t want to be a part of Richard Petty Motorsports in 2013.”

The extension of the Ford deal is attractive to Ambrose, who said he had his first-ever paid appearance for the manufacturer in 1996 for the release of the EB Falcon in his native Australia. The Ambrose family’s roots with Ford date back much earlier, to the founding in 1973 of Van Diemen International by his father, Ross Ambrose, and Ralph Firman Sr.

Van Diemen is perhaps best known for building chassis for the Formula Ford Series.

“I have a lot of reasons to be loyal to the manufacturer,” Ambrose said. “They’ve been fantastic to me and build incredible cars all around the world. I’m lucky enough to be representing them on the race track, and I want to represent them more, obviously, with success.”

Almirola’s contract with RPM is not expected to be renewed, but the team will continue to field Fords in the NASCAR Nationwide Series for driver Michael Annett.

Both Cup cars, however, are sponsored for next season, the No. 9 by Stanley Tools and DeWalt, and the No. 43 by Smithfield Foods and several of its individual brands.

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