RPM not set on who will drive No. 9 car in 2016

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MOORESVILLE, N.C. – The CEO of Richard Petty Motorsports says that the team is not set on who will drive the No. 9 car next year.

Sam Hornish Jr., in his first year with RPM, is 27th in the points heading into Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“Sam has been disappointed, we’ve been disappointed,’’ said Brian Moffitt, CEO of Richard Petty Motorsports, about the No. 9 car’s performance this season.

Hornish has three top-10 finishes and eight finishes of 30th or worse this year. He’s scored five top-20 results in the last eight races. After struggles early in the season, Kevin Manion replaced Drew Blickensderfer as Hornish’s crew chief in May.

“We’ve seen good improvement,’’ Moffitt said of Hornish. “He had a great race going at New Hampshire. He was in that range that we needed him to be, that 11th to 16th. We just need to finish. That’s been our issue.’’

Hornish finished 20th at New Hampshire. He was 20th last weekend at Dover.

Performance, though, isn’t the only factor that will determine who will drive the No. 9 car next year.

“Really, what it’s going to boil down to is funding, where that funding comes from,’’ Moffitt said. “We like Sam. We hope that that can continue there, but we’re also looking at all options.’’

Moffitt said the team does not have sponsorship set for the No. 9 car next year.

Aric Almirola will return to the No. 43 next year – he and sponsor Smithfield signed a three-year extension in Jan. 2014. Smithfield is set to sponsor the car for 29 races annually. Moffitt says he’s confident the other races will be set in the near future.

Richard Petty Motorsports announced Tuesday that it will remain with Ford as its manufacturer.