Paul Menard will drive the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford for the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, replacing Ryan Blaney, the team announced Wednesday (July 26), as part of Blaney’s departure to Team Penske and its No. 12 for 2018 that was announced the same day.
Menard has made 383 starts in NASCAR’s top-tier series since his debut in 2003 and sits 23rd in the 2018 series standings. His seven-year run in Richard Childress Racing’s No. 27 Chevrolet includes a sole win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2011 and two of his three XFINITY Series victories.
As part of the move, Menard will run a few XFINITY Series races for Penske in 2018.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time in NASCAR and as a Cup Series driver, but to get the chance to drive the iconic No. 21 for the Wood Brothers is the coolest thing I’ve ever got a chance to do,” Menard said in a team release. “I’m looking forward to working with the team, working with Roush Yates, Ford Performance and Team Penske to see what we can do. Ryan [Blaney] has done a fantastic job and is a constant threat to run up front. Hopefully, we can do the same thing and keep the momentum going into 2018 and beyond.”
The No. 21 Ford will be sponsored by Menards for 22 MENCS races, with additional sponsorship supplied to be announced; Motorcraft and Quick Lane are touted to continue supporting Wood Brothers.
“It’s fantastic to have the ability to continue to race in the highest level of motorsports full-time and something we look forward to doing with Paul for years to come,” Wood Bros.’ Eddie Wood added. “I know this will allow us to continue to perform as an organization and will give Paul a great opportunity to go out there and compete for wins. Paul is not only a great driver with a lot of experience in the Cup Series, but he’s great with partners, which is a big part of what we do these days. We are looking forward to finishing out this season with Ryan [Blaney], going for more wins and maybe even a championship, and continuing that with Paul in 2018.”
In 2017, Menard has two top fives and three top 10s in the Cup Series, along with a top five and two top 10s in five starts in the XFINITY Series, the best a second-place run at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the latter series last weekend.
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