There have been 19 different drivers to earn a victory in the famous No. 21 car, and Wood Brothers Racing is counting on Paul Menard to become the next driver to accomplish that feat in 2018.
Wood Brothers Racing co-owner Len Wood knew the team wouldn’t have Ryan Blaney for long, and Blaney delivered a win and a Round of 8 berth last season.
After Blaney departed to join Team Penske, WBR chose Menard as the next driver of the historic No. 21 car. The 37-year-old Menard only has one Cup Series win in 400 starts, but the team is counting on him to contend for a playoff berth.
The list of drivers with a win in the 21 car includes many iconic racers: David Pearson (43 wins), Cale Yarborough (13), Neil Bonnett (9), Marvin Panch (8), A.J. Foyt (4), and Speedy Thompson (2) all had multiple wins in the car. Harold Kite, Elliott Sadler, Morgan Shepherd, Kyle Petty, Dale Jarrett, Buddy Baker, Curtis Turner, Glen Wood, Donnie Allison, Tiny Lund, Tim Flock, Trevor Bayne and Blaney each had one win.
That’s 92 wins and 19 drivers. Menard has his work cut out for him, but the team is confident he can deliver.
“I’m 100 percent confident that we show up at Daytona [and] Paul Menard has a shot at winning that race,” Wood said via Racer.com. “So, my expectation is to come home with a sixth guy winning the Daytona 500 for us.”
Menard said he knows the pressure is on him to deliver for Wood Brothers Racing.
“No matter how you run, there’s always pressure to perform and do a better job,” Menard said. “But, yeah, Ryan set the bar pretty high. I have full confidence we can be there, too. That’s going to take hard work and some testing in the off season to get the synergy right with the team, and I think we can do great things.”
The expectations will be high for Menard, but the potential is there for him to at least make the playoffs. His team believes in him, but now he’ll have to go out and deliver in 2018.