Penske Racing has confirmed that 2009 stand-in and part-time racer Will Power will compete full-time for the team in next season's IZOD IndyCar Series.
Power, who began 2009 substituting for the court-bound Helio Castroneves before embarking on a limited series of outings eventually curtailed by an injury-inducing shunt at Infineon Raceway, will drive a third Penske entry, backed by Verizon Wireless. The Australian, who's car will carry the #12, will again partner Castroneves and fellow countryman Ryan Briscoe as Penske expands to a three-strong full-time line-up for the first time in the IndyCar Series.
Power took pole position and finished second at Long Beach on his first outing with the Verizon car this season, and went on to earn an impressive fifth place at the Indianapolis 500. He claimed his first race for Penske at Edmonton to end his short campaign with a win, two poles and four top five finishes in six races, but was unable to complete his scheduled season after suffering a season-ending back injury during practice at Infineon on 22 August.
The 2010 deal was announced as Power continues to recover ahead of schedule. He is currently expected to be ready to participate in 2010 pre-season testing.
"Will did a terrific job for Penske Racing this past season and we are excited that he will be able to drive full-time with the team in 2010 in the Verizon Wireless car," said team principal Roger Penske, "He proved that he could consistently compete for wins and poles in 2009, despite his limited time on track. We believe he can be a legitimate championship contender next season for our team, along with Helio and Ryan. I want to thank Verizon Wireless for their continued support of our racing programmes."
Power had already established himself in America before making the move to Penske, having captured Champ Car rookie of the year honours in 2006 as well as three wins and six pole positions. He won the series last ever race, on the streets of Long Beach, before going on to claim his first IndyCar pole in front of his home crowd at Surfers Paradise.
"To be able to compete for a full season with Penske Racing is really a dream come true for me," the 28-year old admitted, "Working with the team this past season was the best experience of my career and I can't wait to race for the IndyCar Series championship in 2010. I really have to thank everyone at Verizon Wireless and the Penske Racing team for this opportunity. I intend to make the most of it."
The announcement of a third Penske entry adds a key element to the multi-year programme with Verizon Wireless that began in 2009 and also involves the team's NASCAR operation surrounding Brad Keselowski and Justin Allgaier.
"Verizon Wireless is excited to begin its second season with Penske Racing and we look forward to having Will Power compete and win races in the Verizon Wireless Indy car in 2010," said chief marketing officer John Stratton, "We have had a very successful first season with Verizon Championship Racing in 2009 as we established ourselves as a major motorsports presence in North America. The 2010 season should be even more exciting with Will battling for the IndyCar Series championship and with Justin Allgaier and Brad Keselowski racing for wins and championships in NASCAR."