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Frontstretch’s Matt Taliaferro is reporting he’s learned Paul Menard has agreed in principle to move to Richard Childress Racing for 2011. Sponsorship would continue to come from his father’s company, Menards, with a car number and crew chief to be announced. No word on an official announcement yet from either side, but the team would expand to four cars while retaining their current driver lineup of Jeff Burton, Kevin Harvick, and Clint Bowyer.
Menard is having a career year in Cup this season, with one top-5 and three top-10 finishes in 21 starts. 23rd in the Cup Series standings, he briefly flirted inside the top 12 this Spring in his first year driving for the newly-merged Richard Petty Motorsports. RPM had been trying to retain him for 2011, but now has just A.J. Allmendinger returning amongst their current four-driver fleet next season.
For RCR, their expansion back to four cars comes just one year after contracting to three, shutting down the No. 07 driven by Casey Mears in February. However, doing more with less seemed to revitalize the program, which is having one of its best years in the series since Dale Earnhardt’s death in 2001. After going 0-for-4 in Chase berths in ’09, they could go 3-for-3 in ’10 with Harvick, Burton, and Bowyer all inside the top 12 with five races left in the regular season.
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For a few years, RCR had 3 teams, and all were in the Chase. Then, they expanded to 4, and things went off track and all of the teams missed the Chase. So they cut back to three again, and now all three are back in the Chase. Assuming there IS a Chase in 2011, what do you think will happen when that fourth team is added?
At the end of last year RCR ran much, much better than they had all season. Harvick scored most of his top fives and top tens the last 10 races. Burton finished in the top 5 in 3 of the last 4 races and Bowyer scored many top 10’s/15’s those last 10 races or so as well. Childress even said that having 4 cars didn’t affect their performence at all, and towards the end of the season they figured out what was wrong with the equipment and they improved drastically. So I don’t think having a fourth car will affect them all that much.
I agree wholeheartedly with Lugnut.
Car # will most likely be 30 since that’s what the 07 was before, unless there some more points buying.
I think Menard should stay put! Why in the world are you going to leave somewere that you can pretty much get better equipment (not better than RCR) nest year to run even better than you did this year? he is having the best run he has ever had and is going to leave. Doesnt make a lot of sense to me. I think he has more money (or his DAD has more money) than he knows what to do with. This is my prediction for next year. he will run middle of the pack, have a few good finishes and wont make the chase. He will get 2nd rate equipment I.E. hand me downs and wont do a thing. But hey I could be wrong. We shall see wont we.