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NASCAR Cup: Ryan Blaney to Team Penske, Paul Menard to Wood Brothers Racing next year

Ryan Blaney (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)

Ryan Blaney (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)

By AMANDA VINCENT

Both Wood Brothers Racing and Team Penske made 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver announcements Wednesday morning. Team Penske announced that Ryan Blaney would move from the Wood Brothers Racing team to drive a third entry for Team Penske, as that team plans to bring back its No. 12. Wood Brothers Racing announced that Paul Menard would drive its No. 21 next year, replacing Blaney.

“For some time now, we have wanted to bring Ryan in to run a third car for us, but things just needed to make sense from a timing and business perspective,” car owner Roger Penske said. “We have been working on making this a reality, and 2018 is the right opportunity to make this move and return our organization to a three-car team. The benefits of having three full-time teams under our roof, along with the continued technical partnership with the Wood brothers, will help us remain competitive in the ever-changing NASCAR landscape.”

While driving the No. 21 for Wood Brothers Racing, Blaney also has run a limited NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule for Team Penske. Blakey joined Wood Brothers Racing for a partial season behind the wheel of the No. 21 in 2015, going full-time with the team last season. Blakey claimed his first-career Cup win in June at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa. His is 12th in points with seven top-10 finishes in the first 20 races of the 2017 season.

“This is a huge opportunity for me and my career,” Blaney said. “I’ve always enjoyed racing whatever car I was in and trying to win each and every race. I’ve had some great moments with both Team Penske and the Wood brothers over the last few years. I know, for a fact, I wouldn’t be where I am today without Roger, Eddie and Len (Wood) and the opportunities their organizations have given me. I’m thrilled knowing that Brad (Keselowski) and Joey (Logano) are longterm teammates for me at Team Penske and Paul will have input with our team, now that he’s at the Wood Brothers organization. Hopefully, we can go out there and win races and compete for championships year after year.”

Team Penske last fielded three Cup cars in 2010. Team Penske will need to buy or lease a charter for Blaney’s No. 12 team for 2018, unless the team races unchartered.

Menard moves to Wood Brothers Racing and the Ford camp from Chevrolet team, Richard Childress Racing.

“Paul Menard and Menards Inc. have had a partnership with RCR for seven years,” RCR Chairman and CEO Richard Childress said. “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.”

Menards, the retail chain owned by Menard’s father, John Menard, will follow Menard to Wood Brothers Racing to be the primary sponsor on the No. 21 for 22 races.

Menard’s victory in the 2011 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is Menard’s only Cup Series win, to date. Through the first 20 races of the 2017 season, Menard has two top-fives and three top-10 finishes and is 25th in the points standings. The 2008 season was his first full-time season in the series, although he did run 30 of the 36 races that made up the 2007 season. In all, he has 19 top-fives and 58 top-10s in 383-career starts. He joined RCR in 2011.

“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,” Eddie Wood said. “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 int he 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, going for more wins and, maybe, even a championship and continuing with Paul in 2018.”

Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (Facebook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook (Facebook.com/nascarexaminer).

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Posted by on July 26, 2017. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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