Any questions as to what would happen with the second car in the Richard Petty Motorsports fleet in Sprint Cup finally were answered on Friday. With the departure of Sam Hornish Jr, the No. 9 Ford had a vacancy that needed filled. At the same time, some drivers still had no idea where they would be after the season-finale event at Homestead last month.
Now, one of those drivers has a home.
Xfinity Series competitor Brian Scott, who drove the No. 2 Chevrolet Camaro for Richard Childress Racing, while also fielding a fourth car on occasion in Sprint Cup for the same organization, has been named the new man at the helm for the second car for RPM, becoming a teammate to Aric Almirola. The announcement came on Friday, but according to Scott the deal began earlier this week, and it just seemed to fit.
“This whole deal came together Monday of this week. It literally just all materialized. Everything lined up right and we had a really good meeting and everyone got pumped up and I think that we saw the potential in that room on Monday that led us to pull the trigger and come out of the gates and hit the ground running,” Scott said.
The only part of Scott’s 2016 season that is not clear is sponsorship. Team owner Richard Petty is expecting to announce sponsorship for the No. 9 in the coming weeks. Petty, Scott and other team members posed alongside the No. 9 with Twisted Tea as the sponsor on the car, however Petty is not saying whether that is going to be a sponsor for the upcoming year.
What he is glad for is Scott having a guaranteed chance to compete each week at NASCAR’s highest level, instead of just one race here and there during the season.
“We’re real comfortable with the situation of him being able to already be in a bunch of the Cup races, and we’ve noticed that he does pretty dang good in the equipment he’s got,” Petty said. “So the big deal is putting him in a team where all he drives is just Cup stuff. He doesn’t jump back and forth, even though he might run a few of the races, it won’t be the deal. He’ll be able to run for a championship or rookie of the year.
“Before, he’s been a few races here, a few races there, so he’s just been bounced from place to place. Now he’s got a home, so I think that’ll settle him down a little.”
Scott will take part in the Goodyear tire test that is set for next week at Homestead, which will allow Scott to get used to the equipment at RPM, as well as work with his new team.
“I’m going to put him right to work right away,” said Sammy Johns, RPM Vice President of Competition and Operations. “With the testing policy that NASCAR’s put in place, which I’m fully supportive of, there’s not any other testing that we’re going to get to do before the Daytona 500. So a chance to get Brian in a race car before that is excellent.
“When we were able to get this done and get it done before the Homestead tire test, Brian was automatically the first choice to go do that so we could get some time in the race car with him, start to get a feel for what he’s looking for in a race car, that’s going to be invaluable.”
Prior to joining RPM, Scott spent six years in the Xfinity Series. Last season, he would finish eighth in the standings, no wins but six top-fives and 18 top-10’s.
Scott takes over for Hornish, who spent only one year with RPM, finishing 26th in the final standings, and only with three top-10’s in his 2015 season. It is unclear where Hornish will go next season.