By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer
Acura Team Penske announced today that 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi will join the team to co-drive the No. 7 Acura DPi machine in the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring.
Rossi replaces the departing Graham Rahal, citing cockpit fitting issues as the reason why he stepped away from the team. The rest of the No. 7 lineup remains intact from last year’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with Helio Castroneves partnering Ricky Taylor and the No. 6 lineup of Dane Cameron and Juan Pablo Montoya (and Simon Pagenaud for the endurance races) remains the same as well.
Team Penske IndyCar Series driver Simon Pagenaud will return to compete in the endurance events with the team in 2019, racing the No. 6 Acura ARX-05 DPi with full-time racers Juan Pablo Montoya and Dane Cameron.
“I have watched and raced against Team Penske in INDYCAR and I have a lot of respect for the organization and what they do and how they do it,” said Rossi in a team release.
“I really appreciate Andretti Autosport for allowing me the opportunity to represent Acura in some of the biggest sports car races in the world. I can’t wait to work with Helio and Ricky, to learn from them and hopefully contribute to some wins and a championship for Acura Team Penske.”
Rossi finished second in the 2018 IndyCar Series points standings, winning at Long Beach, Mid-Ohio and Pocono. His victories helped contribute to Honda clinching their first manufacturer’s championship in IndyCar since engine competition returned to IndyCar in 2012.
“Alexander will be a great addition to the Acura Team Penske lineup in 2019 and all of us at Acura are very excited about our prospects for the coming season,” said Art St. Cyr, President of Honda Performance Development.
“When you add Alexander to the experienced team of Helio, Ricky, Juan and Dane – and with Simon returning for the endurance events – we are extremely proud of the talented and accomplished Acura Team Penske driver lineup. We look forward to our second opportunity to win the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the ARX-05.
“Alexander has been a great representative of Honda in the IndyCar Series, from his Indy 500 victory in 2016 to competing for the title this past season. We are pleased to have this opportunity to build our relationship with him through our sports car program.”
Team Penske secured one win in the 2018 WeatherTech championship at Mid-Ohio with Castroneves and Taylor and five other podium finishes through the year. Castroneves and Taylor finished third in the North American Endurance Cup.