Paul Menard to move from RCR to Ford, Wood Brothers Racing in 2018

Logan Whitton/NKP

By Aaron Bearden, Motorsports Editor

Ryan Blaney may be moving to Team Penske, but the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing (WBR) Ford isn’t vacant.

Instead it’ll be filled with by veteran.

WBR announced Wednesday that 2011 Brickyard 400 winner Paul Menard will make the leap from Richard Childress Racing (RCR) and Chevrolet to compete for the team and Ford in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2018. Menards will sponsor the No. 21 Ford for 22 races, with additional sponsorship from Motorcraft/Quick Lane and others expected to be announced at a later date.

Menard will also make limited starts for technical affiliate Team Penske in the XFINITY Series. His sponsors, Menards, sponsors Team Penske driver and defending champion Simon Pagenaud in the Verizon IndyCar Series.

“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,” WBR owner Eddie Wood said in a release. “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.”

Menard, 36, has competed in the Cup Series since 2007. The Eau Claire, Wisconsin native has tallied 19 top fives and 58 top 10s over the past decade, with the lone win in 2011 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Menard has made the playoffs once, clinching a spot in the field on points en-route to a 14th-place result in 2015.

“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. “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.”

RCR chairman and owner Richard Childress released a short statement in the moments following Menard’s announcement, wishing the veteran well while confirming that they intend to continue as a three-car stable in 2018.

The statement reads: “Paul Menard and Menards, Inc. have had a partnership with RCR for seven years. Together, we have enjoyed a tremendous amount of success, including Paul’s emotional win at Indianapolis in 2011. He is a very talented driver and a good friend. Everyone at RCR wishes both Paul and Menards nothing but the best in the future.
Our entire RCR organization is 100 percent focused on getting all three of our Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series programs in the playoffs this year, and bringing another Cup championship to RCR in 2017.
We will be announcing our plans for a third Cup team and our overall 2018 team lineup at a later date.”

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