MENCS Opinions

Mullins: Ryan Blaney / Paul Menard Announcement Not Surprising


News broke earlier today that Ryan Blaney will move full-time to the Team Penske stable and drive the No. 12 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series entry. With that announcement, the Wood Brothers, the team that Blaney currently drives for announced that Paul Menard will be behind the wheel of the famed No. 21 entry in 2018.

The Wood Brothers have a technical alliance with Team Penske.

Team Penske’s president Tim Cindric and Wood Brothers co-owner Eddie Wood announced that Blaney’s current crew chief, Jeremey Bullins will follow the young driver to Penske while Greg Erwin will be a atop the pit box for Menard.

Blaney, 23, is currently racing in his third season with the Wood Brother. He scored his first Monster Energy Cup Series win earlier this season at Pocono Raceway, the same race track the series heads to this weekend.

Paul Menard photo

Paul Menard entering Turn 1 in the MENCS AAA 400 Drive for Autism at Dover International Speedway. ©Jacob Mullins/Rubbings Racing

Menard, 36, has made 383 starts in NASCAR’s premier series since 2003. He spent the last seven years at Richard Childress Racing, which includes his only Monster Energy Series win, Indianapolis 2011.

Keeping the chemistry that Blaney and Bullins have built together over the years is one of the reasons that the No. 21 team is vying for wins each and every week. By having Bullins come over with Blaney, and three championship-caliber drivers – Blaney, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano – Team Penske is going to be one of top title contenders for years to come.

“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,” team owner Roger Penske said in a press release. “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.”

Many people weren’t surprised by the announcement of Blaney to Team Penske today as it has been one of the worst kept secrets in the sport that Penske wanted to bring the young driver into his fold. However, many took to social media perplexed by the move of Menard to the Wood Brothers.

Many had hoped that if the No. 21 seat became available that Bubba Wallace would fill it:

Others took a stance against Menard:

Then….some took to the comedic side of things:

However, with all the negativity, Paul Menard’s Empire stands behind their driver:

I may be in the minority, but this move makes sense.

Think about it, who sponsors Simon Pagenaud in the Verizon Indy Car Series for Team Penske? Menard’s.

Who is the name sake to said sponsor? Paul Menard. See…makes sense.

Penske touched on it himself in the press release: “Having a company like Menards, and a businessman like John Menard, be a part of this transition is also fantastic for our organization. The benefits of having three full-time teams under our roof, along with the continued technical partnership with the Wood Bothers, will help us remain competitive in the ever-changing NASCAR landscape.”

By having a major sponsor for your other racing endeavors also sponsor your satellite team, this might be one of the best chess moves by Penske in the recent years.

Now let’s be civil about things.

Before crucifying Menard for being named the new driver instead of insert driver name here, let’s see what he can do. You never know, Menard might just surprise you.

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About Jacob Mullins

Jacob Mullins serves as the managing editor and senior NASCAR writer covering all three national touring series's. You can find him on on Twitter at @JMulls15. An intercollegiate athletic administrator by trade, Mullins can be found at the big tracks as well as the local short tracks in the Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania area. Mullins enjoys social media, photography and graphic design. A native of West Chester, Pennsylvania, Mullins follows all forms of racing, Major League Baseball (Baltimore Orioles) and college football (Virginia Tech Hokies).

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