MOORESVILLE, N.C. - Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves has announced he is leaving his full-time position in the Verizon IndyCar Series. Castroneves will spend the 2018 season competing for Team Penske's new sports car program, though he will still race in next year's Indy 500.

The North Carolina-based racing team says Castroneves will join fellow Indy 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya and Dane Cameron in the new Acura Team Penske program. They will take part in the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

Castroneves released the following statement Wednesday: 

I’ve been fortunate to achieve a lot of my personal goals with Team Penske over the years. Helping Roger (Penske), the team and everyone with Acura start this program and build it from the ground up will be another big challenge and a great opportunity in my career. I am proud of everything we have accomplished together in INDYCAR. 

I’m also excited to get a chance to race again for Team Penske at the Indianapolis 500. That race is near and dear to my heart and trying to become the fourth four-time winner is something I really want to accomplish in my career. We’ve come so close the last few years and with this team, I know we will have a great opportunity to try and make some history.

Castroneves joined Team Penske in 2000 and is the longest-tenured driver in the team's history. He won the Indy 500 in 2001, 2002 and 2009. 

"Helio has been a valuable member of Team Penske for almost 20 years and we are looking forward to sharing more success together," said Roger Penske. “Competitors like Helio, Rick Mears and Mark Donohue are what have made Team Penske what it is today. This represents a new challenge for him and I know he is excited about the opportunity. Having established winning drivers like Helio and Juan, teaming up with young and talented racers that know the series like Dane Cameron, will help give our new sports car program a solid foundation as we head into the 2018 season."

Team Penske has not yet announced a full-time replacement for Castroneves on the INDYCAR team. His teammate, Josef Newgarden, secured the Verizon IndyCar Series championship last month.