Juan Pablo Montoya will race for Penske at 2017 Indy 500

Juan Pablo Montoya seen ahead of the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 27, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
WPPROD

Juan Pablo Montoya has accepted an offer to race the 2017 Indianapolis 500 for Team Penske and will not drive full-time in IndyCar next season.

Montoya told The Associated Press on Tuesday the offer was the “best choice” for the Colombian.

Last month, Penske hired Josef Newgarden to replace Montoya full-time in the series, insisting the decision was because the young American was available and the organization wanted him in their lineup. At the time, they revealed the Indy offer for Montoya.

Montoya told AP he will spend time next year helping his son, Sebastian, race in Europe and doing television work for Canal F1 Latin America.

“I'm happy, to be honest,” he said.

Montoya lost the 2015 IndyCar title on a tie-breaker and finished ninth this last season. He spent three years driving for Penske after making the switch from NASCAR back to IndyCar, and won four races, including his second Indy 500 in 2015.

Montoya also won the Indy 500 in 2000 while driving for Chip Ganassi. He left for Formula One the next season, where he took seven wins, then reunited with Ganassi in NASCAR midway through the 2006 F1 season. Montoya spent seven full seasons in NASCAR before Ganassi didn't renew his contract after 2013, and so he returned to open-wheel racing.

Montoya was told by Penske officials during the summer that the team was looking at other options for its aging roster — Montoya and Penske driver Helio Castroneves are both 41 — but was given the option to race in the Indy 500 for Penske. He explored other possible rides before accepting the offer.

Sebastian Montoya is 11 and has already won national karting events. Juan Pablo and his wife spent time last month in Italy, where Sebastian did some international racing.