|Simon Pagenaud has been smiling a lot of late.|
Yesterday, Team Penske announced the signing of Simon Pagenaud as part of a 4-car Verizon IndyCar Series effort for 2015. The Frenchman will campaign the #22 Dallara Chevrolet, joining reigning series champion Will Power and Indianapolis 500 winners Juan Pablo Montoya and Helio Castroneves in what promises to be a rather formidable four-car stable.
And while the news of Pagenaud to Penske had been rumored, the official announcement that Team Penske would in fact run 4 full-time cars for the first time in its celebrated history came as a surprise to many. Well, AutoRacing1 has learned there is likely a lot more to the hiring of Pagenaud than meets the eye?
|Simon Pagenaud at Lime Rock in 2009.|
In particular, we hear that Team Penske is planning a Tudor United SportsCar effort for 2016 with Honda factory support. Pagenaud, of course, has well-documented ties to Honda. The Frenchman scored five LMP1 wins for de Ferran Motorsports during the 2009 American Le Mans Series season.
Of course, Roger Penske likewise has a rather distinguished history in sports car racing. Penske enjoyed vast success in Can-Am winning back-to-back championships in 1972 and 1973 with George Follmer and Mark Donohure. More recently, The Captain fielded championship ALMS LMP2 efforts in 2007 and 2008.
|Timo Bernhard negotiates Laguna Seca's famous Corkscrew en route to the 2008 LMP2 championship for Team Penske.|
Also, Penske announced recently that he would be part of an Australian V8 Super Car effort with Marcos Ambrose beginning next season.
And it looks as though The Captain’s motorsports empire isn’t finished growing.
Now, whether Pagenaud will be part of the SportsCar effort or remain an IndyCar driver, we cannot say. Theoretically, Penske could be planning down the road to campaign Montoya and Castroneves, both 39, in sports cars. However, we would imagine that is a few years off, as both remain very competitive in single-seaters.
What exactly, the details will be, we don’t know for sure. But let it be known, Penske is very much looking at a SportsCar campaign for 2016.