Team Penske has confirmed that it is to start up a new motor racing endeavour in Australia in 2015, where it will partner with Dick Johnson Racing in fielding an entry in next year's V8 Supercar Championship.
"Team Penske is excited to partner with Dick Johnson Racing to compete in the V8 Supercars Championship starting next season,” said team owner Roger Penske.
“We believe in building our businesses through racing and our success on the track. With our new business ventures in Australia, it makes sense to showcase our brands through the V8 Supercars Championship."
Penske also confirmed that two-time former Supercars champion Marcos Ambrose - who announced on Saturday that he was ending his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career after nine years in the US - would be the driver of the new #17 Ford Falcon for DJR Team Penske.
"The opportunity to work with DJR and Marcos Ambrose convinced us to go forward," Penske acknowledged.
Ambrose is one of the most successful drivers in the history of V8 Supercars. In the 65 rounds in which he competed from 2001 to 2005, he won 28 individual races and clinched back-to-back Supercars titles in 2003 and 2004 before moving to NASCAR. Since then he has earned seven wins and eight pole positions while competing in the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series, most recently with Richard Petty Motorsports.
"This is a great opportunity to return home to a place that I love in a Series where I've experienced a lot of success," said Ambrose, a native of Launceston, Tasmania. "It will be an honour to race for two motorsport legends in Roger Penske and Dick Johnson."
Ambrose, a two-time winner at Watkins Glen in Cup competition, had said on Saturday that his decision to depart NASCAR was down to having "plateaued" in the US stock car series.
"I've always said that if I felt like I had flattened off my learning curve or my success, that I was only in the US to win and if I wasn't able to content like I want to, then I need to look at my situation - and that has been the case," he had said, adding that he was also motivated by wanting to return his growing family to Australia. [See separate story for more details.
The partnership between Team Penske and Dick Johnson Racing brings together two enormously motorsports organisations. Penske has produced more than 400 race wins and 26 national championships including this year's Verizon IndyCar Series championship with Will Power, while Brad Keselowski is currently the top seed in the Chase play-offs for the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title.
Similarly, DJR is Australia's longest-established motor racing team and has earned over 80 victories and seven Australian Touring Car/V8 Supercar titles in over 35 years of racing. Since the formation of his eponymous racing team in 1980, Dick Johnson has become a national hero and is still a fan favourite 15 years after hanging up his helmet.
"We are certainly looking forward to this new challenge,” said Johnson, who himself claimed five Australian Touring Car Championships and won the prestigious Bathurst 1000 race three times before he retired from racing in 1999.
"I have always admired what Roger Penske has accomplished in business and with his racing teams and it will be a thrill to work with Team Penske and Marcos in 2015," Johnson added.