Despite speculation linking several top line drivers to the seat alongside Ryan Briscoe for 2009, it has emerged that Will Power would be Roger Penske's choice to fill in for Helio Castroneves should the Brazilian be convicted on tax evasion charges.
The likes of Justin Wilson, Ryan Hunter-Reay and even Sebastien Bourdais - all potentially out of work despite solid 2008 campaigns in the IRL and F1 - have all been mentioned as possible replacements for Castroneves, but Power appears to have got 'the Captain''s vote as D-Day looms for double Indy 500 winner Castroneves.
The Brazilian is due to appear in a US district court in Miami on 2 March, having been indicted on tax evasion charges at the end of last season, and could potentially miss the entire 2009 IndyCar campaign if found guilty and handed a prison sentence.
With that hanging over his team, Penske has nominated Power, whose future at KV Racing Technology was clouded when personal backer Craig Gore withdrew his Aussie Vineyards sponsorship, to carry out testing duties in the #3 Dallara-Honda at the start of the season, with an eye on running him in place of Castroneves if necessary.
"We remain hopeful that Helio's situation will have a positive outcome and the team is fully behind him," Penske president Tim Cindric confirmed, "but, while Helio prepares for his court case, we're excited to welcome [Will Power] to the team. He has already proved that he's a terrific racer and we think he will fit in well at Penske."
The 2006 Champ Car rookie of the year would form an all-Australian line-up at Penske should he find himself replacing Castroneves on a full-time basis, joining fellow countryman Briscoe, who made his IndyCar breakthrough after returning to the series with Penske last season.
Power, meanwhile, transferred to the IRL with KVRT after the merger of the two open-wheel series, but appears to have lost his hold on a seat with Kevin Kalkhoven's squad after Mario Moraes was confirmed in one seat last night.
Official confirmation of Power's role is expected later today [Tuesday].