||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (July 2013)|
Menard at Texas Motor Speedway in 2007
August 21, 1980 |
Eau Claire, Wisconsin
|Achievements||2011 Brickyard 400 Winner|
|NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career|
|263 race(s) run over 11 year(s)|
|Car no., team||No. 27 (Richard Childress Racing)|
|Best finish||16th (2012)|
|First race||2003 Sirius Satellite Radio at the Glen (Watkins Glen)|
|Last race||2014 Bojangles' Southern 500 (Darlington)|
|First win||2011 Brickyard 400 (Indianapolis)|
|NASCAR Nationwide Series career|
|183 race(s) run over 9 year(s)|
|Car no., team||No. 33 (Richard Childress Racing)|
|Best finish||5th (2010)|
|First race||2003 Trace Adkins Chrome 300 (Nashville)|
|Last race||2013 Kansas Lottery 300 (Kansas)|
|First win||2006 AT&T 250 (Milwaukee)|
|NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career|
|6 race(s) run over 2 year(s)|
|Best finish||42nd (2003)|
|First race||2003 GNC 200 (Milwaukee)|
|Last race||2007 Kroger 250 (Martinsville)|
|Statistics current as of April 12, 2014.|
Paul Menard (born August 21, 1980) is a NASCAR driver. He currently drives the No. 27 Menards/NIBCO Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series for Richard Childress Racing. He is the son of Menards founder John Menard, Jr..
Menard's racing career began at the age of eight when he won the Briggs Junior Karting Class Championship in his native Eau Claire, Wisconsin. He later won the Briggs Medium Class Champion before working his way up to higher level racing. He began ice racing at the age of 15 and won 10 International Ice Racing Association events in his career. He continues to compete in IIRA events in and around Wisconsin. In the summers he raced legends cars on short tracks in Wisconsin. He borrowed Bryan Reffner's Late Model for a week winning his heat race and placing around fourth in the feature. He decided to build his own late model and raced the car three to four times per week. In an interview with Motorsports Minute, Menard said he chose stock cars over Indy Cars because there was no feeder series for Indy Car in his native Wisconsin.
In 2000, he began racing a limited schedule in the NASCAR Re/Max Challenge Series, finishing 13th in points. During his rookie season in 2001, he earned a pole and victory at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, finishing ninth in points. The 2002 season saw Menard compete in ReMax Challenge (two poles, seventh in points), SCCA Trans-Am (one front-row start, four top-10 finishes), Grand Am Cup (victories at Fontana and Phoenix) and the NASCAR Southwest Tour. He capped his season in the latter series with a last-lap pass of veteran Ken Schrader for the Phoenix victory.
In 2003, Menard joined Andy Petree Racing to compete in NASCAR Winston Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck Series events while still competing in ARCA. In his first ARCA start at Salem Speedway, he qualified second and finished fourth. Later that year, he started on the pole at Winchester, Indiana, and then scored his first ARCA victory at Talladega Superspeedway. He also had top finishes of ninth in the Busch race at Indianapolis Raceway Park and eighth in the Truck race at the Kansas Speedway.
In 2004, Menard began the NASCAR Busch Series season driving the No. 33 Menard's Chevrolet. Midway through the season, he moved to Dale Earnhardt, Inc. in the #1 Chevy. 10 races later, Menard won his first career pole position at Kansas Speedway and finished 23rd in points despite no top-tens and missing seven races. With Dan Stillman as crew chief beginning in 2005, they started out by leading 57 laps at Daytona. Winning the Bud Pole Award at Talladega also had them running up front until getting caught up in a wreck. He got his first top-10 and top-five by placing fifth at the Kentucky Speedway. From there, the team went from 20th to the top-10 in points before finishing sixth on the season.
In 2006, driving the #15 car part-time for DEI, Menard scored his first top-10 finish in the NEXTEL Cup Series by coming in seventh place at the Golden Corral 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Menard also won his first Busch Series race on June 24 at his home track of the Milwaukee Mile by holding off a late race charge and bump from NEXTEL Cup regular Kevin Harvick. Harvick eventually caused a multi-car wreck attempting to bump him out of the way. Menard finished off 2006 with a sixth place finish in the standings, tying his best finish in the standings last year (2005). He scored 16 top-10 finishes and 7 top-5 finishes in the Busch Series.
In 2007, Menard ran his first full-time Cup season. He failed to qualify for six races that season, but after DEI's merger with Ginn Racing, the owner's points were transferred from Sterling Marlin's #14 car to Menard, who was then locked into the rest of the races. His best finish of 2007 was in the Citizens Bank 400 where he finished 12th. In the Busch Series, he picked up 5 top-5 finishes. After the fall race at Charlotte, in which Menard and Tony Stewart made contact on pit road, a feud between the drivers ensued, with Tony Stewart (who drove for Menard's father John Menard in the Indy Racing League's early years) criticizing Menard's career, saying,
"You can have your father buy your ride and write DEI a big check, but you can't buy talent. And that's what John Menard's been good at his whole life, is just buying success. He's bought his son a Nextel Cup ride and he's just got enough talent to just be in the way most of the time."
In 2008, Menard won his first Sprint Cup Series pole at Daytona International Speedway in early July and remained in the top 35 in owner's points for the entire season. At Talladega in the fall, Menard had the best run of his career leading laps and coming home with a strong second place finish. He also was up front for a good part of the day in the other. He finished up the season with $3,559,130 in earnings and finished 26th in points standings, a career high.
For the 2009 season Paul Menard and his sponsorship (Johns Manville, Moen, Richmond Water Heaters, Turtle Wax, Energizer, Pittsburgh Paints, NIBCO, Zecol, Peak, Vertus, Sylvania, Quaker State and Menards) moved over to the number 98 Ford Fusion operated by Yates Racing. Paul Menard showed limited improvement in 2009, running in the top 10 many times, only to later have problems. For example, he crashed at Las Vegas Motor Speedway while running very well, and was involved in a wreck with only 40 laps to go, while running 7th. These issues lead to the team being in danger of falling out of the top 35 in points standings for much of the year. Paul's best finishes include two 13th place finishes in the Aarons 499 at Talladega Superspeedway as well as the Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, and a 15th place finish in the Southern 500. At the second Dover race, Paul showed his skills by starting 10th and running in the top 10 for most of the day, only to find his car tighten up near the end of the race and come home 19th. At the end of the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Menard was the only driver to not score a top 10 finish who ran all of the races. Paul ended up finishing 31st in the final point standings.
For the 2010 season his #98 Menard's team moved over to Richard Petty Motorsports, due to its merger with Yates Racing. In his first start with RPM he finished 13th in the 2010 Daytona 500. He then went on to have Top 20's at Las Vegas and Fontana. The following race at Atlanta Motor Speedway Paul posted his second highest career Cup series finish with a fifth place showing followed by a few more top 20's. After that he fell from the Top 12 in points. At Charlotte, he finished eighth after running in the top 10 all race long. Menard also posted another top 10 in the circuit's 19th race at Chicagoland Speedway. At Dover International Speedway in September he ended up with a 7th place finish. The following week he started from the second position at Kansas. While most publications rated him around 30th in the 2010 preseason, he finished 23rd in points.
In early 2010, Menard drove in the number 90 Daytona Prototype for Spirit of Daytona Racing in the Rolex 24 hours at Daytona International Speedway.
Menard moved to Richard Childress Racing in 2011, driving the No. 27. On July 31, 2011, Menard won his first Sprint Cup race in his 167th start, in the Brickyard 400 at the prestigious Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He did so by making his last pit stop with 36 laps to go. He led late, but with nine laps to go he was passed by Jamie McMurray. With four to go he regained the lead and held off Jeff Gordon, the winner of the inaugural Brickyard 400 in the final laps, having enough fuel to do so. He is the first member of the Menard family, or the first person driving sponsored by Menards to win at Indianapolis, in any event held at the track. He also joins Trevor Bayne, Regan Smith, David Ragan, and Marcos Ambrose as first-time winners in the 2011 season.
In September 2011 at Richmond, Menard and RCR became the center of controversy when Menard spun in the waning laps. It was believed that his accident was intentional, intended to assist his teammate Kevin Harvick who later won the race against Jeff Gordon who would have won if the caution did not come out.
In 2012, Menard did not perform well. He crashed during the Aaron's 499 at Talladega and went winless for 2012. In 2013, he slightly improved when he was briefly in Chase for the Sprint Cup contention. A blown engine early in the Coke Zero 400 caused him to be knocked out of the Chase with a few races left before the Chase began. In the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400, Menard's tire exploded upon stopping in his pit box; Menard stated, "About a lap later, they told me I was on fire. I lost my brakes, and the damned wheel blew right off."
A native of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Menard is the son of Menards founder John Menard, Jr.. He attended the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He currently resides in Charlotte, North Carolina with his wife Jennifer. The couple had their first child, a daughter, on March 18, 2014.
- Interview on Motorsports Minute with Dennis Krause
- Menzer, Joe (March 21, 2011). "Menard's empire continues to grow with success". NASCAR.com. Turner Sports. Archived from the original on 2011-03-24. Retrieved 2013-09-30.
- Pistone, Pete (2011-09-16). "Menard Richmond Spin Causing Controversy". Motor Racing Network. Retrieved 2013-07-26.
- "Menard goes up in flames". NASCAR. 2013-07-06. Retrieved 2013-07-14.
- Olson, Jeff (2013-11-17). "NASCAR driver's tire explodes in fiery blaze". USA Today. Retrieved 2014-02-17.
- "Petree Selects Paul Menard". MotorRacingNetwork.com. 2003-04-10. Retrieved 2013-11-17.
- "Paul Menard". Richard Childress Racing. 2014. Retrieved 2014-02-25.
|Brickyard 400 winner