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Penske brings John Menard back to IndyCar for 10 races

SONOMA, Calif. -- Roger Penske has sponsorship locked down for three of his IndyCar teams next season, with Menards signing on for 10 races with Simon Pagenaud to drive the bright yellow colors of the home improvement store.

The announcement Saturday returns John Menard to a high-profile role in IndyCar after a long absence. The billionaire was a team owner and sponsor in the series but walked away after the 2004 season to back his son, Paul, in NASCAR.

Menard made a slow return to Indy this year as sponsor for Simon Pagenaud in the 100th Indianapolis 500, and that deal grew to cover five races.

Menard says he and Paul Menard are signed with Richard Childress Racing in NASCAR through 2017, so moving his son to Penske's organization is not currently being discussed.

Penske said he has the funding to field cars for Pagenaud, Will Power and Helio Castroneves next season, but the status of Juan Pablo Montoya and a fourth Penske entry is undetermined. Montoya won the Indianapolis 500 in 2014 for Penske, but lost the championship in the season finale.

Penske said discussions regarding a fourth car are ongoing, and that he has not officially decided on bringing back the Colombian. The team owner also wouldn't discuss the potential to add American driver Josef Newgarden as the fourth Penske driver.

"He's not available, I don't think, right now," Penske said. When pressed, the team owner only said "no comment."

Newgarden doesn't become a free agent until the end of this month. Penske did reveal his IndyCar lineup will be determined within the next 60 days.