Indy Lights champion Raphael Matos is to graduate to the IRL IndyCar Series with Luczo Dragon Racing next season.
The 27-year-old Brazilian will be the team's sole driver as they commence their first full-time IndyCar campaign, and makes the step up having won the Champ Car Atlantic and Indy Lights titles in consecutive seasons, following on from previous championship successes in Formula Dodge and Star Mazda.
"I'm extremely excited about the opportunity," Matos said. "It's definitely the biggest step in my career. This is such a young and promising organisation.
"I've worked really hard to get here, and I'm willing to do whatever it takes to win races, and obviously our ultimate goal is the championship.
"There's a lot of competition. We're fighting against Penske, Andretti Green, Ganassi and a bunch of other good teams and good drivers, but I think we have what it takes to win races and to perform well."
Matos had driven for Andretti Green Racing's Indy Lights arm this year, and had been linked to a mooted fifth AGR IndyCar entry. But Matos felt his chance of an AGR drive ended when Tony Kanaan signed a contract extension in August.
"When TK signed his five-year contract, I kind of felt the way things were going there it would be difficult to put a fifth car together," he said.
"They're very focused on running four cars. It would be very tough to add a fifth car. They certainly understood my side, and I still have a really good relationship with them. Obviously, I left the team in good terms because we won the championship together."
Luczo Dragon, co-owned by Roger Penske's son Jay and Steve Luczo, first appeared at the 2007 Indianapolis 500, where they took fifth place on a one-off run with Ryan Briscoe which paved the way for the Australian's Penske deal this year.
They then signed Tomas Scheckter for what became a six-round programme this season, but despite showing promising pace on the ovals, Luczo Dragon hit problems at every race and Scheckter's best finish was 21st at Detroit, 31 laps down after an early driveshaft breakage.
Jay Penske believes Matos is the ideal driver for his squad's first full IndyCar season.
"This is an exciting day for our race team because not only are we taking that step to full-time status, we are adding a young driver who has proven to be a champion at every level he has raced," Penske said.
"Any time you can win four championships in six years like Rafa has done you have some special qualities. He is ready for the IndyCar Series, and we are so thrilled to have him."