Dario Franchitti has confirmed that he will return to Patrón Highcroft Racing to partner David Brabham and Scott Sharp in this season's longer-distance ALMS events.
The 2007 Indy 500 and IndyCar Series champion will return to the open-wheel series with Target Chip Ganassi Racing in 2009, but will now start his season aboard Highcroft's new Acura ARX-02a LMP1 entry.
Franchitti will join the Connecticut-based squad for the season-opening Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and will get to drive the new LMP1 car for the first time tomorrow [Tuesday] at the ALMS 'Wheels Down' test.
The Scot is no stranger to success with the Acura brand at Sebring, having been part of the class-winning Andretti Green Racing squad, alongside Bryan Herta and Tony Kanaan, that took the LMP2 win in Acura's 2007 debut, and also took pole position at the Long Beach ALMS event.
Franchitti made his debut for Patrón Highcroft Racing aboard the Acura ARX-01b LMP2 car at last year's Petit Le Mans.
Having contested this past weekend's Rolex 24 at Daytona for Ganassi, Franchitti will swap prototype categories for Sebring before embarking on his IndyCar return alongside reigning champion Scott Dixon at Ganassi.
"I've been fortunate enough to win the Twelve Hours of Sebring before and I would like nothing more than to help David, Scott and Acura get the new LMP1 car into victory lane," Franchitti said.
"Unfortunately, we weren't able to show what the team was made of last time around at Petit Le Mans in October, so I'm sure everyone at Patrón Highcroft Racing is motivated and gearing up for a strong effort for an overall victory in Sebring."
The 35-year old has more than 180 CART and IndyCar race starts, with 18 wins and 17 pole positions, in the last decade, but has also established a creditable sportscar reputation that ensured he remained at the top of Highcroft's shopping list.
"We are thrilled to welcome Dario back to Patrón Highcroft Racing for 2009," team owner Duncan Dayton said, "He is going to be a very valuable addition to our squad.