"It went pretty fast," Sebastien Bourdais said of how the deal came together that sees him return to full-time IZOD IndyCar Series competition in 2012, for the first time since he won the last of four consecutive Champ Car titles with Newman/Haas in 2007.
"Basically, a few days before the New Year, I got an email from one of Jay Penske's people," said Bourdais. "It went from no hope, to hope, then to reality over the holidays."
Bourdais had run a partial road course-only campaign with Dale Coyne Racing in 2011 and said that he had been "pretty optimistic" of doing the same again in 2012 after finishing off with a strong run of performances toward the end of the season.
"It looked like [Dale Coyne] wanted to continue and we agreed on financial terms and so on, but then he never committed," Bourdais told US motor sports channel SPEED via phone from his home in Le Mans. "I asked him to give me a word - positive or negative - before Christmas, and I never got a word from him."
Coyne is now expected to sign Justin Wilson to his team for 2012, leaving Bourdais out of the picture.
But just as it looked like US open wheel racing was once again in the past for the former Toro Rosso F1 driver, Bourdais got the intriguing email from Dragon Racing - and had to think about where his priorities lay.
Last year, he selected his IndyCar appearances to fit around his races for Peugeot in the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup; in 2012, the situation is reversed with IndyCar events getting priority and his ILMC schedule having to fit around them.
For the most part it has worked out well, but the possibility of the return to the IndyCar schedule of Milwaukee on June 16-17 was almost a deal-breaker as it would conflict with the one must-do race Bourdais has in Europe: the Le Mans 24 Hours.
"That was part of the negotiations, which slowed the agreement a little bit," explained Bourdais. "Jay needed some approval from the sponsors that it would be okay for me to miss one race if that scenario materialises."
Now there's a scramble for Bourdais, Penske and everyone at Dragon to get ready for the first race of the season at St Petersburg at the end of March. The team have only just clinched their engine deal as a Lotus factory team, and need to assemble personnel and start testing.