By Josh Farmer, IndyCar Reporter
Team Penske announced today that Josef Newgarden will replace Juan Pablo Montoya and join the team for the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season.
Newgarden is coming off a career-best season where he finished fourth in the final standings, just behind future teammates Helio Castroneves, Will Power and Simon Pagenaud. He also becomes the first American to race for the team since Sam Hornish, Jr. in 2007.
“For any open-wheel racer – or any racecar driver in general – Team Penske is a dream job,” said Newgarden. “Roger Penske is a legend in the motorsports community and his team has done just about everything they’ve ever set out to do. I look forward to working with all of Team Penske’s great partners. To get an opportunity to work with Simon (Pagenaud), Will (Power) and Helio (Castroneves), along with the rest of the team, will just help make me a better driver.”
Newgarden began his Verizon IndyCar Series career in 2012 driving for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing after winning the Indy Lights championship in 2011. The team merged with Ed Carpenter Racing in 2014 which proved to be a big year for the 25-year-old as he won his first two races at Barber and Toronto.
The team split up at the beginning of last season while Newgarden stayed with Ed Carpenter Racing. He claimed a dominating win at Iowa Speedway – leading 282 of 300 laps coming less than a month after a frightening crash at Texas Motor Speedway where he broke his clavicle and right hand.
Roger Penske, team owner, noted that Newgarden’s prowess and toughness are what was key in signing him.
“When you look at the top talent in the series, both from a driving and commercial perspective, Josef is near the top of the list,” said Roger Penske. “We are always looking to build toward the future and when we had the opportunity to talk with Josef, we knew that he would be a great fit with our program. He is a fantastic driver on the track and will be great with our partners off the track. He is hungry to win more races and win championships and we hope to give him that opportunity as part of our team.”
This leaves Juan Pablo Montoya’s status to be determined after finishing eighth in the 2016 season championship. It is believed that Penske has offered him an Indy 500 only ride while potentially racing for Team Penske in a rumoured IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Series Daytona Prototype International program. He has also been in contact with former team Chip Ganassi Racing as well as KVSH Racing and AJ Foyt Racing.