INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Helio Castroneves will return to IndyCar for six races next season with Meyer Shank Racing.
Shank will expand to a second car to accommodate Castroneves, the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner. The popular Brazilian has driven for Roger Penske for 20 years but has been in sports cars the last three seasons. Penske still entered him in the last three Indy 500s.
The Indy 500 is included in the six-race deal for Castroneves. The 45-year-old will also race at Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama, Long Beach, California, and the road course races at Indy, Portland and Laguna Seca.
“I know it’s only six races, however, one of them is extremely important for me, which is the Indy 500,” Castroneves said Tuesday.
Castroneves has said he wants to return to IndyCar, where he raced full-time from 1998 through 2017. Team Penske moved him to IMSA sports cars in 2018 but is closing that team after this weekend's season finale.
Castroneves has driven Penske cars the last 20 seasons but raced for Arrow McLaren SP in October in the IndyCar doubleheader at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Shank is expanding to a second car behind last month's partnership with Liberty Media Corp., which became a minority investor in the team. Castroneves will be the first true IndyCar teammate for Shank driver Jack Harvey, who will return for a second full season.
Shank has an alliance with Andretti Autosport but is primarily a single-car organization.
Shank and Harvey first paired for the 2017 Indianapolis 500 and built a six-race program for 2018. They ran 10 races in 2019 and expanded to a full schedule this year. Next season will be their second consecutive full season.
Shank will follow that same model for his new second car, with Castroneves helping to get the program running.
“The idea to start off with six races for the second IndyCar was another strategic plan," said team owner Mike Shank. “As I’ve always said in the past, we will never bite off more than we can chew. It’s always been one of our goals to expand the IndyCar program, and this is the best way that we can start that.”