Home / Cup Series / Cup Series News / Paul Menard Retiring from Full-Time Competition After 2019, Matt DiBenedetto to Drive No. 21 in 2020
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Paul Menard Retiring from Full-Time Competition After 2019, Matt DiBenedetto to Drive No. 21 in 2020

Matt DiBenedetto‘s unemployed status for 2020 didn’t last long, and it’s thanks in large part to Paul Menard.

Wood Brothers Racing announced Tuesday (Sept. 10) that Menard is retiring from full-time competition at the end of 2019, with DiBenedetto taking over the No. 21 in the 2020 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

The move comes after DiBenedetto was informed he would not be returning to Leavine Family Racing’s No. 95 after the end of 2019 earlier this summer.

“I’ve enjoyed every moment of my career racing in the NASCAR Cup Series and I’m so thankful for all the great memories and friendships I’ve made through this sport,” Menard said in a team release. “But I’m looking forward to spending more time at home with my wife Jennifer and our two young children while moving forward with the next chapter of my life.

“I want to thank everyone at Wood Brothers Racing, along with Team Penske, and our partners at Menards, Motorcraft, Quick Lane Tire & Auto Centers and Ford. It’s been a privilege to work with them and some of the true legends of our sport, including Andy Petree, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Robert Yates, Richard Petty, Richard Childress, Roger Penske and Glen and Leonard Wood. I’m excited for what the future holds and I’m looking forward to sharing the plans for 2020 and beyond in the coming weeks.”

Added DiBenedetto: “I am so excited about this opportunity to race for one of the most successful teams in NASCAR history beginning in 2020. The No. 21 Ford is one of the most accomplished and iconic cars in our sport and it will be an honor to join Wood Brothers Racing and help carry on the team’s tradition of success in NASCAR. I want to thank Eddie and Len Wood, Kim Wood Hall, Menards, Edsel Ford and Ford Motor Company for this opportunity.”

“We want to thank Paul Menard for his dedication to the team over the last two seasons,” Wood Bros.’ Eddie Wood said. “We’re looking forward to a strong finish to 2019 and we wish him nothing but the best for the future. All of us at Wood Brothers Racing are excited to welcome Matt DiBenedetto to the team beginning next season. Matt has shown a lot of promise on track and everyone has seen it in his results this season, especially over the past several months. We want to continue to build on that success together as we gear up for 2020 and the future of Wood Brothers Racing.”

Menard has driven for the Wood Brothers since the start of the 2018 season. He’s earned one top five and 11 top 10s in that span, plus one pole. He finished 19th in the 2018 standings and currently sits there in 2019.

In a Cup career that stretches back to 2003 (and became full time in 2007) and spans 461 races entering Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend, Menard has one win — the 2011 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway — plus 20 top fives and 69 top 10s.

He also has three wins, 43 top fives and 102 top 10s in the Xfinity Series since 2003.

Menard’s plans for 2020 are unknown; as it was specified that he was stepping away from a full-time role, it’s possible he’ll compete on a part-time basis.

DiBenedetto, meanwhile, is currently in the midst of his first — and only — full-time season with LFR, having scored three top fives and six top 10s. In 166 Cup starts since 2015, he has three top fives and 10 top 10s.

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About Kevin Rutherford

Kevin Rutherford
Rutherford is the managing editor of Frontstretch, a position he gained in 2015 after serving on the editing staff for two years. At his day job, he's a journalist covering music and rock charts at Billboard. He lives in New York City, but his heart is in Ohio -- you know, like that Hawthorne Heights song.

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18 comments

  1. Avatar

    There are some good rides opening up in the near future with Harvick, Hamlin, Bowyer, Newman, Johnson retiring soon. This is just another step up the ladder for Matt, so improving on what he did this season is important next year. If he proves himself well in that 21 car, he could be in a nice ride in a few years. If I was a team owner I would be watching him pretty closely. But then again, I probably think differently than other team owners. I don’t feel rushing Xfinity guys, even if they have success, directly to a quality Cup ride is the best way to go. Cup racing is a completely different animal and most owners don’t have that kind of patience for the 3-5 years it takes for these guys to really hone their craft in Cup.

  2. Avatar

    Yep Tim, I know that buying rides is nothing new but I don’t think it’s a good thing. Do you?
    All I was doing was stating the fact that, that was the way it was.

  3. Avatar

    Aw damn. Not a fan of Matty D. Don’t know why..just am not. I really like Paul, a character. Paul just being Paul. Quirky Paul.

    His family has helped NASCAR out a lot, and I hope it continues.

  4. Avatar

    Couldn’t be happier for Matty D and the Wood Bros. Seems like the perfect match! Paul Menard may not have made a huge splash, but his family have been huge supporters of Nascar for many years on many levels. I hope he can enjoy the time with his young family without the weekly grind of racing. Now Matt doesn’t have to worry about what he will be doing next year!

    • Avatar

      And not just NASCAR. Menards has been in indycar for a long time also. Great supporters of racing. Best of luck to Paul in his retirement. I am so happy for Matt. I agree Dibenedetto and the Wood brothers seems like a perfect match. All low key, hard working, very talented guys. I think, in hindsight, Toyota will wish they had found a place at the table for Matt.

  5. Avatar

    Great news for Matty D. It sounds like Menards is staying on board with the Wood Brothers too. This is a win for both. Matt should be able to compete for wins in the 21, like Blaney did. It will setup an interesting story line for 2020 of the 21 v. the 95 to see who preforms better.

  6. Avatar

    This had to be approved by Roger Penske, who gets sponsorship for several teams and series from Menard. Paul did win the Indy race and was nothing but class. He is not the only person who brought money to the sport.
    Now, he will be changed with overseeing the vast Menards empire and I predict they will buy Lowes out of bankruptcy soon.
    As for Matt, he is marketable and an excellent spokesman and will work well with the other Penske drivers.

    • Avatar

      I wish we had a Menards where I live… That’s one store I really miss since leaving Indiana.

      Great news for Matt! I honestly didn’t see a decent ride opening for him.

      • Avatar

        I went to a Menards while on a biz trip in Ohio. I don’t understand their business model: a kludged together grocer and home improvement. That said, they’ve certainly been successful enough to bankroll PM’s racing, err, career.

  7. Avatar

    Such awesome news! Matty D and the Woods brothers – sweet!

  8. Avatar

    Well, I guess Toyota blew that all to hell. But I guess when you’ve got talent stacked up waiting for a ride you can afford to do this. Ford’s gain, Toyota’s loss. Will be interesting to see what the 21 can do with a real Pro race driver at the wheel.

  9. Avatar

    Looks like we will now have our answers and a benchmark as to where Matt and the 95 teams talent level is at in 2020.

  10. Avatar

    Who gonna fight over the sponsorship now.

  11. Avatar

    I have to wonder…. was retirement Menard’s choice or did the Wood Brothers decide DiBenedetto was too good to pass up?

  12. Avatar

    Totally excited for Matt!! I hope this is also a stepping stone to a future with Penski Racing!

  13. Avatar

    Man, this really makes me happy for DiBenedetto. Not quite a top tier ride but still a step up in my opinion. While he probably won’t set the world on fire in the 21 car, he will have the opportunity to rack up some good finishes and maybe contend for a win or two when circumstances work in his favor. Looking forward to see what he can do with the 21 car. This is indeed an earned opportunity.

    As for Menard, he had finally gained a bit of respect (he was no longer a catalyst for wrecks like when he first started out) considering most (myself included) felt his daddy’s money bought him his ride (similar to both Dillons now). Good luck Paul. I am sure you have nothing to worry about since your family is rich beyond needs. Your future is bright.

    • Avatar

      Bill B. Buying rides is nothing new in NASCAR. Hell, compared to affirmative action, oops (drive for diversity) its very palatable. Paul Menard and his Dad brought class to the sport. Enjoy your family.
      Did Ford orchestrate this? Maybe. Who cares, its a good deal all around.

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