PaulMenard is a stock car racing driver who is competing in the NASCAR Cup Series on a full-time schedule since 2007, but also on a part-time schedule in the Xfinity Series. In 400 Cup Series starts between 2003 and 2017, Menard managed to score one victory, in the 2011 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He also scored three wins in the Xfinity Series.
Menard was the master of ice racing
He was born in Eau Claire, in Wisconsin, on August 21, 1981. As a kid and a son of tycoon John Menard, Paul showed some racing potential after he has won many local karting competitions. As a teenager, he has started to compete in ice racing and immediately became one of the best racers in Wisconsin. In one moment he had to choose in which type of racing he will continue. Menard made a decision relatively easy, choosing stock car racing instead of IndyCar as there weren’t any feeder series for it near his home.
NASCAR debut in 2003 with Andy Petree Racing team
Over the years, Paul graduated in NASCAR feeder series but also had a solid success in the Trans-Am Series and in Grand-Am Cup, winning many races. Finally, in 2003, he was ready for debut in NASCAR Winston Cup, Busch, and Truck series. In his rookie year, Paul twice finished in Top 10 what was the relatively good result for a newcomer. In 2004, Menard drove only in Xfinity Series but missed too many races and from 15 starts he failed to score a single Top 10 finish.
Paul Menard set for Busch debut in Nashville
The following season was one the Paul’s best. Driving for Dale Earnhardt Inc. team, Paul finished sixth in the Xfinity Series. He drove especially well in the second half of the year, clinching a couple of podium places and almost regularly finishing in Top 10. In 2006, Menard achieved his first win in the Series, at Milwaukee Mile, and added many top 10 finishes to repeat the success from the previous year – 6th place in the Drivers’ championship.
NASCAR Xfinity Series was better suited for Paul Menard than the Sprint Cup
For the season of 2007, Paul Menard was preparing to battle on two fronts. That proved to be a pretty bad decision. In Sprint Cup, Menard raced a full season but the outcome was disappointing knowing that his best result was 12th place at Michigan. In the Xfinity Series, he has appeared in selected events and did much better than in Sprint Cup, but he missed too many races to achieve a notable position in the final standings. For the last time, Menard took a part in Truck Series but that proved to be another disappointment in one year.
Paul Menard, 2008
In 2008, his final year with Dale Earnhardt's team, Menard focused solely at Sprint Cup driving a #15 Chevrolet. He won the pole position at Daytona and finished second at Talladega what was the highlight of the season. At the end, he finished 26th in standings. In the same time, he earned more than $3.5 million, silencing many critics which were telling that he lacks talent.
Focus on the Sprint Cup
He moved to Yates Racing in 2009, driving full time in Sprint Cup and occasionally in Xfinity Series. Again, the results in Sprint Cup were much worse than in the lower league. That was best seen in the fact that he was the only Sprint Cup driver who has started in all races but failed to have a single Top 10 finish.
Video - Paul Menard's 'intentional' crash at Richmond
With Richard Petty Motorsports team in 2010, Paul Menard competed in Sprint Cup while in the Xfinity raced under the flag of Roush Fenway Racing. The improvement was noticeable as he finished 23rd in Sprint Cup and 5th in the Xfinity in which he has finished almost half of the races in Top 10. That was his last full-time season in Xfinity Series.
Menard finally wins
In 2011, he had some very good results as a part-timer of Kevin Harvick Inc. but the focus still was Sprint Cup in which he desperately wanted to leave a deeper mark. As a driver of Richard Childress Racing, he finally won the race, Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He was 17th overall that year which will be remembered after an accident at Richmond when Menard was accused of intentional spun to stop Jeff Gordon in attempt to help his teammate Kevin Harvick to win the race.
Paul Menard won Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2011
Is he a first-class driver?
Since 2012, Menard had many ups and downs in Sprint Cup but never was really considered as one of the series’ top drivers. He has won some places at the podium and had many Top 10 finishes, but never was really close to finishing in the Top 10 at the end of the year.
His best achievement was 14th place in 2015 what is his best in career so far. However, he had some bright moments in the Xfinity Series after he has won races at Michigan in 2014 and at Road America the following year.
Menard celbrates victory in Xfinity Series Road America 180
Whether he drives because of his money or his talent?
Despite some flashes, it looks like Paul Menard will never be able to reach the stars in NASCAR and by many he will be considered as the one who got a chance to compete for the sake of his money and origin, and not because of his skills and talent.