Well, here is some very unexpected news that has broken on Tuesday. Paul Menard, who has emphasized that he is committed to running out his contract with the Wood Brothers Racing team in recent months, will now retire at the end of the 2019 season, according to a press release from the race team.
“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 stated in a Wood Brothers 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,” said Menard. “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.”
Matt DiBenedetto, who is one of the sport’s hottest free agents after being left on the outside looking in at Leavine Family Racing, will move into the iconic No. 21 Ford Mustang for the 2020 season.
“I am so excited about this opportunity to race for one of the most successful teams in NASCAR history beginning in 2020,” said DiBenedetto. “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.”
The Wood Brothers currently sit at 99 victories in the NASCAR Cup Series, and Menard will continue to chase that astonishing 100th victory for the team for 10 more race weekends, before handing the keys to the team over to DiBenedetto.