The first domino of the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series season has officially fallen.
Indeed Simon Pagenaud is making the move from Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports, to the reigning championship team.
Pagenaud is driving for Team Penske, in a new fourth car for Roger Penske’s operation. The team announced the news on Monday afternoon.
“Simon Pagenaud is a very talented, focused and determined driver,” Roger Penske said in a release. “We know how tough he has been to compete with over the last few seasons and we are very happy to welcome him to Team Penske starting in 2015. With Simon coming on board to join Will, Helio (Castroneves) and Juan (Montoya), we feel we have four drivers very capable of winning on any given weekend and four guys who are legitimate championship contenders.”
This puts him alongside champion and longtime nemesis Will Power for the second time in his career. The two were teammates when driving for Derrick Walker in the 2007 Champ Car season.
For Pagenaud, it’s a multiyear deal as he moves into IndyCar’s most successful team.
“Getting a chance to race for Team Penske is almost like a dream to me,” said Pagenaud. “I have always admired the team and everything that Roger Penske has accomplished in racing. I am so excited to become a part of Team Penske and I can’t wait for the 2015 season to start.”
No commercial partners or car numbers were named.
Helio Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya are also set to return to the team.
For SPM, filling Pagenaud’s seat is not going to be an easy task. James Hinchcliffe and/or Justin Wilson could be available, and the team is also testing a number of young drivers this offseason.