Roger Penske has always been comfortable fielding just two or three IndyCar Series entries a year. With Simon Pagenaud on the free agent market, the team owner was willing to consider expansion.
Team Penske this week added the Frenchman to its IndyCar lineup, which will have four full-time cars next season for the first time in team history.
Penske management had been aware of Pagenaud for several years because of his relationship with former Penske driver Gil de Ferran.
"That's where we took notice of what his capabilities were," said Penske team President Tim Cindric. "This has been the opportunity that we've had to bring him on board. If that meant changing to a four-car program, that's what we were prepared to do."
The addition of Pagenaud means that IndyCar's top three teams are now all at four entries each. Chip Ganassi Racing and Andretti Autosport both field four full-time cars, but Andretti may be on the verge of losing James Hinchcliffe, who could be Pagenaud's replacement at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
Pagenaud will be teamed with Helio Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya and Will Power, who won his first IndyCar title in August.
"It's going to be an interesting season next year," Pagenaud said. "Feeding off each other is going to be an important task. I'm really excited about it. It's perfect timing in my career."
Pagenaud finished third in the final drivers' standings in 2013 and fifth this season driving for Schmidt. He has four wins and six podiums, and said he'd always wanted to drive for Penske, who has won a record 15 Indianapolis 500s.
Team Penske does not yet have a primary sponsor or lead engineer for Pagenaud, but nobody seemed worried. The organization also doesn't know when Pagenaud will get his first time on track in a Chevrolet — he's had a longtime Honda association.
"Certainly before the year is out, we'd like to get him in our car at some point in time," Cindric said.