Former Williams and McLaren F1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya will race for Team Penske in the IZOD IndyCar Series next season, it has been announced.

The Colombian, who has been competing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing in recent years, will drive the #2 Team Penske car, taking in the full-season and linking up with Will Power and three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves

"I am really excited to join this legendary team beginning next year," said Montoya, who raced in IndyCar in 1999 and 2000, albeit in its old CART guise, winning the title in his rookie season and then winning the Indy 500 the following year with the Chip Ganassi Racing team.

"I have had the opportunity to drive for some of the best racing teams in the world and I have always admired Roger Penske and his organisation. I consider it an honour to be offered the opportunity to drive for Team Penske."

Team owner and boss Roger Penske added: "Juan is a proven winner at all levels of motorsport. He has won a lot of races and championships and he has an extremely passionate fan base.

"We look forward to building on his successes together and we believe he will be a great addition to Team Penske."

News of Montoya's exit from NASCAR broke last month when the 37-year-old was informed his contract with Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing would not be renewed when it expires at the end of the current season. His successor, Kyle Larson was then confirmed a few weeks later.

Montoya had been expected to consider other possible seats in NASCAR, with Furniture Row Racing among those said to be interested as they seek a replacement for Kurt Busch in 2014 with similar stature in the sport.

A return to the IndyCar Series had also been mooted. However the team most strongly connected with the idea of bringing Montoya back to US open wheel racing, Andretti Autosports, said last week that Montoya had turned down their offer of a race seat.

Many interpreted this at the time as a sign that Montoya was not interested in revisiting former hunting grounds and was intent in staying in NASCAR. Certainly no one expected him to be in successful negotiations with Penske Racing's IndyCar squad, given the long-standing rivalry between the Penske and Ganassi camps and Montoya's equally long-standing ties with the Ganassi organisation in IndyCar, NASCAR and GRAND-AM in which he was also part of a winning team in the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona.

Speaking with the media in August after learning his EGR contract was not being extended, Montoya had said that his only concern for next season was finding a "winning car" in whatever championship he ended up competing, and joining the Penske squad in IndyCar certain fulfils that objective.

"It would be nice to see him with a smile on his face," former series champion and three-time Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti had said at the time Montoya was mooted to be in talks with Andretti. "I think it would be great for the series, and I think it would be great for Juan Pablo, if he wants to do it.

"I know how good a driver he is," Franchitti added. "I'd like to think, coming back here, he would get his motivation back and put a smile on his face. I would love to see it happen. He's definitely got the hunger, and I think he's at the stage of his life and his career that he's only going to do something that he wants and he can enjoy."

"I think having Montoya in the series, or in the team, would be good," reigning IndyCar Series champion Ryan Hunter-Reay had contributed. "I'm open to it. I haven't heard anything about it, [but] I think he'd be great for the series. He's one of the top talents in the world, and it would be great to race against him."

Hunter-Reay will now get exactly that opportunity, although not as a team mate to the Colombian as originally expected but instead as part of a potent new threat to his and Andretti Autosport's prospects next season.

Montoya earned 11 wins in his original two-year stint in the IndyCar Series (then called CART) and is a good match to Penske Racing, which is one of the most successful teams in the history of motorsport. Competing in a variety of disciplines, cars owned and prepared by Penske Racing have produced 377 major race wins, 433 pole positions and 24 National Championships as well as 15 Indianapolis 500 victories.

Penske Racing ran a three-car line-up in IndyCar until the end of 2012 when it was forced to release Ryan Briscoe after five years because of a lack of available sponsorship funding to continue to maintain a full-time third car. However Montoya's fellow NASCAR competitor AJ Allmendinger has made five race starts in the Penske #2 car so far in 2013, including the Indy 500. Plans for Allmendinger to make further appearances and possibly switch full-time to IndyCar ended with news that he had been handed the race seat of #47 JTG Daugherty Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup car for 2014.

Briscoe himself made a comeback to IndyCar racing at Indianapolis, ironically making a switch from Penske to Ganassi for the occasion, and has since made six further starts in 2013 with Panther Racing. He is currently focussing on competing in the American Le Mans Series with Level 5 Motorsports for the remainder of the year.