MOORESVILLE, N.C. – Team Penske confirmed Wednesday what had been rumored for months, that long-time Verizon IndyCar Series driver Helio Castroneves will join the team’s new Acura sports car program for the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.
Castroneves will join previously-announced drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Dane Cameron in racing one of two Acura ARX-05 Daytona Prototype International (DPi) entries next season.
Acura Team Penske’s final full-time and endurance drivers will be announced at a later date.
Castroneves will officially return to sport car competition, joining fellow Team Penske drivers Montoya and Simon Pagenaud, at this weekend’s 20th anniversary Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, driving an ORECA-07.
The team will make its competition debut with the new Acura prototype sports cars at IMSA’s 2018 season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.
In addition to his sport car duties, Castroneves is expected to continue to compete for Team Penske in next May’s Indianapolis 500, as the popular Brazilian driver continues his quest to become a four-time winner of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”
“Helio has been a valuable member of Team Penske for almost 20 years and we are looking forward to sharing more success together,” said team owner Roger Penske. “Competitors like Helio, Rick Mears and Mark Donohue are what have made Team Penske what it is today. This represents a new challenge for him and I know he is excited about the opportunity.”
“Having established winning drivers like Helio and Juan teaming up with young and talented racers that know the series, like Dane Cameron, will help give our new sports car program a solid foundation as we head into the 2018 season.”
Castroneves will transition to the Team Penske sports car program after 18 successful seasons with the organization’s Verizon IndyCar Series team. He finished fourth in this year’s championship standings, marking the 14th time in his career that he has finished inside the top-five in the season-ending rankings.
Over the course of his 20-year Indy car career, Castroneves has produced 30 wins and 50 pole positions, including one win and three poles this season.
Considered one of the all-time greats in Indy car history, Castroneves has earned more wins than any other driver in the history of Team Penske’s championship open-wheel racing program. He’s scored three victories in the Indianapolis 500, two of which came back-to-back in his first two starts at Indy in 2001 and 2002.
Castroneves last won at Indianapolis in 2009 and he’s come remarkably close to earning a record-tying fourth Indy 500 win, finishing second twice over the last four seasons.
In addition to his remarkable Indy car success, Castroneves has also made five starts for Team Penske in sports car competition as he produced two poles, three podium finishes and a class victory at Petit Le Mans in 2008.
“I’ve been fortunate to achieve a lot of my personal goals with Team Penske over the years,” said Castroneves, who is also the longest-tenured driver in team history. “Helping Roger, the team and everyone with Acura start this program and build it from the ground up will be another big challenge and a great opportunity in my career. I am proud of everything we have accomplished together in IndyCar and now I am focused on helping to develop the ARX-05 to try and win the 24 Hours of Daytona and the IMSA championship in 2018 with Acura.”
“I’m also excited to get a chance to race again for Team Penske at the Indianapolis 500. That race is near and dear to my heart and trying to become the fourth four-time winner is something I really want to accomplish in my career. We’ve come so close the last few years and with this team, I know we will have a great opportunity to try and make some history.”
CREDIT: Team Penske