Paul Menard will be looking to rejuvenate his career, as he will be moving over to a Ford with Wood Brothers Racing after a seven-year stint at Richard Childress Racing in Chevrolets. And really, that’s probably the best option Menard could have made, as Ryan Blaney took this #21 team to new heights last season. Greg Erwin will serve atop the pit box for Paul Menard in 2018.
Cup Series History
Paul Menard has also been decent in Cup Series action, but never spectacular. If we’re being completely honest here, one of the big reasons why he continues to race in NASCAR’s top series is because of the Menard’s sponsorship he brings along; a driver with a career average finish of 20.6 typically doesn’t last 12+ seasons in top tier equipment. As far as Menard’s history goes, he has one Cup Series win (in 2011), while his best season came in 2012, when Paul had an average finish of 15.5 and ended up 16th in points. Finish-wise, Menard’s best season was 2014, when he racked up five top 5s and 13 top 10s, although he was extremely inconsistent and ended up 21st in points.
Predictions for the Upcoming Season
Inconsistency is one issue you’re going to run into with Paul Menard from a Fantasy NASCAR perspective, and although that trait is often due to the equipment the driver is running, that’s not really the case with Paul Menard–especially considering he’s ran over 98% of the laps in two of the last three seasons. Inconsistency is also an issue with Wood Brothers Racing, as mechanical issues often plagued the #21 team over the last two seasons with Ryan Blaney. And, honestly, that’s not very surprising; 2018 will be just the third full-time season for the #21 Ford in the last ten years. So, to wrap it all up, your combining an inconsistent driver with a somewhat inconsistent team–not the best situation.
Overall Expectations: Paul Menard is coming off of two straight down years at Richard Childress Racing, but I think the move to Ford was a good one for him. Paul ended up with an average finish of 19.6 during the 2017 campaign, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he improved that a couple of positions in this upcoming season. He probably won’t be challenging for many top 5 finishes this year, but six to eight top 10s wouldn’t be out of reach for Paul Menard in 2018.
Can Paul Menard win a Cup Series race in 2018? Probably not. His lone win in Cup Series action came on a fuel mileage gamble at Indianapolis, and although Menard should be in a little better equipment in 2018, he’s still not a driver that’s going to challenge for wins. Even Ryan Blaney only posted four top 5 finishes last season while driving this #21 Ford for the Wood Brothers.
Paul Menard as a Fantasy Option in 2018
DraftKings: This is going to purely be a race-by-race basis with Paul Menard in DraftKings for 2018. Drivers in this lower price range are typically used to get place differential points, but there’s potential there for Menard to get some solid finish points as well, depending on what track we’re at. Of course, with a move to somewhat better equipment, I expect Menard to qualify better in 2018, and that’s going to decrease his viability in DraftKings.
Season-Long Salary Cap Games: Not recommended. As mentioned before, Paul Menard tends to be pretty inconsistent, and when you add in the somewhat-frequent problems that the #21 team tends to have, that tells me that Menard is going to have quite a few rough finishes during the 2018 campaign. Ryan Blaney was able to have a pretty good season in the #21 Ford last year, and he was a good option in season-long salary cap games. However, Menard isn’t anywhere close to the talent level of Blaney, and driver talent is what the #21 team needs to succeed.