By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
It has been long rumored and is now official, Paul Menard will replace Ryan Blaney at the Wood Brothers in 2018. Menard, who is in his 11th full season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, will take his Menard’s sponsorship to the Team Penske alliance team.
Menard’s will sponsor 22 races on the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Team Ford Fusion. Plans for long-time Wood Brothers partner Motorcraft / Quick Lane, along with additional sponsorship will be announced later.
The Wood Brothers, the oldest NASCAR race team still in existence, currently has 99 wins with Blaney scoring the teams’ most recent victory at Pocono earlier this year. For their accomplishments on the track and as team owners, both Glen and Leonard Wood have been inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Wood Brothers team co-owner Eddie Wood is looking forward to working with Menard,
“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. 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’s move will also put him in a Team Penske Ford Mustang in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in a handful of races in 2018.
Menard was excited to climb behind the wheel of the iconic No. 21,
“I’ve really enjoyed my time in NASCAR and as a Cup Series driver, but to get the chance to drive the iconic #21 for the Wood Brothers is the coolest thing I’ve ever got a chance to do. 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.”
Menard currently drives for Richard Childress Racing (RCR). RCR helped Menard breakthrough for his first, and to date, only career victory in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2011 at the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Menard’s departure leaves the No. 27 Chevrolet vacant at RCR.
Team owner Richard Childress said,
“We will be announcing our plans for a third Cup team and our overall 2018 team lineup at a later date.”
For now, Menard will focus on the remainder of the 2017 season with RCR while also looking forward to the opportunity 2018 presents.