Penske Racing announced via press release late Monday morning the signing of Juan Pablo Montoya to the team's IZOD IndyCar Series program.
"In a way, it's always been one of my dreams to be able to be part of this organization," said Montoya. "And being here, it's unbelievable. I'm just so excited, I can't believe. I'm like a five‑year‑old kid right now."
Montoya will pilot the #2 yet-to-be-sponsored Team Penske entry alongside teammates Helio Castroneves and Will Power, who have also been confirmed for a return next season.
The Colombian returns to American Open-Wheel for the first time since the 1999-00 CART seasons where he earned 10 wins, the '99 championship and the 2000 Indianapolis 500.
“Juan is a proven winner at all levels of motorsport,” said Roger Penske. “He has won a lot of races and championships and he has an extremely passionate fan base. We look forward to building on his successes together and we believe he will be a great addition to Team Penske.”
Montoya became a free agent earlier this year when it was announced that he would not be returning to the Chip Ganassi Racing Sprint Cup program he's competed in full-time since 2007. Since, Montoya has been linked to various NASCAR programs, including Kurt Busch's soon-to-be vacant Furniture Row ride, and Andretti Autosport made it known that they've had talks advancing to finding a partial 2014 budget. Just days ago the reining IZOD IndyCar Series Championship winning teams was notified by Juan that he would not be joining the team.
According to Penske Racing President, Tim Cindric, talks of a possible deal started on pit-lane during the August 18th Sprint Cup race weekend at the Michigan International Speedway.
"I tried to call him [Chip Ganassi] this morning to tell him about it, and actually we texted because he was in Europe," the long time Ganassi employee said. "I feel like he was very excited for me. Something that we have with Chip is that we are very good friends. We have a lot of respect for each other."
The 37-year-old is well aware he can't just jump back into an open-wheel car and become competitive. It'll take preparation.
"The conditioning is a big part of it. You know, since the moment I became a free agent, I wanted the opportunity in open‑wheel and I've been training really hard. I know I have a long way to go to where I want to be. I know what it takes to be in the shape that you need to be in to win and be a champion. So I'm working towards that goal, and the good thing is that we've got a lot of time until the first race, so I've got a lot of time to prepare myself physically and mentally for it.
I think having the seven years of NASCAR and then my open‑wheel experience before that, I think I'm pretty excited about going to the ovals. I know we don't go to a lot, but you know, the one you want to win, it's an oval. You want to win the Indy 500. I'm excited about that. I have the opportunity to be in the car at Indy and I think with Penske it is going to be huge.
And I think the other one is going to be a process. I normally pick up things really quick; all my career I have. As I said before, having Will and Helio as teammates helping me out is going to really help me get up to speed. I'm going to have to learn a lot again, but I'm up to the challenge – that is the No. 1 thing."