American Le Mans Series champion Simon Pagenaud hopes to race in the Indianapolis 500 and the Las Vegas IndyCar race with his ALMS team Highcroft Racing this year.
The 26-year-old Frenchman was a rising star of American open-wheel racing in the mid-2000s, winning the 2006 Atlantic title before impressing in Champ Car as a rookie with Walker Racing's Team Australia in 2007. But he was left without a drive when Champ Car and IndyCar merged in 2008, so began a successful sports car career instead. He has become part of Peugeot's factory LMP1 program as well as winning last season's ALMS title with Highcroft and David Brabham.
Highcroft has been repeatedly linked with an IndyCar program in recent years, and Pagenaud said the intention is for it to become a reality in 2011, with him as the driver.
"The Indy program would also involve the Las Vegas race at the end of the season," he confirmed, although his Champ Car experience likely would put him out of the running for the $5m "outsider" bonus for that race. "I have always wanted to race in IndyCar and we are working hard on putting everything together. It would be fantastic if that could be in association with Highcroft."
Pagenaud will contest this weekend's Sebring 12 Hours in Highcroft's upgraded LMP1 HPD and will stay with the team if it is able to put together a program to defend its title, which is not yet confirmed. He will also race for Peugeot in the Spa Intercontinental Le Mans Cup/Le Mans Series round and the Le Mans 24 Hours.
"It looks like I'm going to have plenty of interesting challenges on my hands this year, and that's a promising sign for the future," he said.