This is not a test: Penske gives No. 12 car to Stremme

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Penske Racing didn't have to go far to find a replacement for Ryan Newman in the No. 12 car next season.

The team officially announced on Wednesday that 31-year-old David Stremme will be elevated from test team driver to a full-time Sprint Cup ride.

"His past accomplishments and current experience as our NASCAR test driver, as well as his character and desire for success, makes him a good fit into our culture,'' team owner Roger Penske said in a prepared statement.

Stremme was released by Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates last season. In two-plus seasons he had no wins, three top-10s and finished no higher than 24th in points.

He joined Penske as a test driver this season and drove a Nationwide Series car for former Penske driver Rusty Wallace. He ranks 12th in the Nationwide standings with five top-5 finishes and 13 top-10s.

The No. 12 car that won the Daytona 500 became available when Newman announced that he will drive for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2009.

The organization talked to several other candidates, including Martin Truex, Jr. and Casey Mears. After Truex re-signed with Dale Earnhardt Inc. and Mears signed with Richard Childress Racing the focus returned to Stremme.

"To be a part of Penske Racing's 40-plus-year legacy has been a longtime dream of mine,'' Stremme said. "I cannot wait to join my new teammates [Kurt Busch and Sam Hornish Jr.] and work to get the No. 12 into the 2009 Chase.''

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com.