Paul Menard returns for a second season piloting the iconic Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 Ford in 2019.
Last year Menard finished 19th in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings and put one top-five and seven top-10 finishes on the board. Menard also won a pole position.
This year the veteran driver feels having the one season of experience under everyone’s belt will provide a foundation to build on for better results.
“We had really good solid racing last year with (crew chief) Greg Irwin leading a bunch of newer guys and veterans on our team,” Menard said. I felt like we all clicked pretty well, we all get along, we all work together and we had fun together.
“Obviously, this year with the new aero rules things are going to be a lot different but we’ve done our homework this offseason.”
Like all Cup organizations, the Wood Brothers will have to deal with the challenge of adapting to the new rules package that will significantly impact both speed and handling. In addition, Ford teams will roll out the new Mustang body style for the 2019 campaign.
But Menard believes the timing of the two changes might work in his team’s favor.
“The aero package is going to be the bigger deal but that’s the same for everybody,” he explained. “For us it’s the perfect time for a new car because it’s going to be the same for everybody. The Fusion that Ford had ran the last several years had a lot of time to progress and they hadn’t changed much over the years. There was a lot of fine tuning on in it and making it better, you saw a lot of dominating performances by Ford last year.
“With the Mustang we are going to have to redevelop it but I’ve been nothing but impressed by everyone at Ford Performance. They’ve thought of all the scenarios of what could go wrong and implemented some things into the Mustang to help us out. If we can start the season close to where that Fusion ended, we are going to be in good shape because there’s going to be a lot of development that goes into that Mustang as the year goes.”
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In 2011, Trevor Bayne got the season off to a very successful start when he took the Wood Brothers to a win in the Daytona 500. With “The Great American Race” right around the corner to kick off the 2019 schedule, Menard would like nothing better than to once again pull the No. 21 into Victory Lane.
“I feel confident heading into Daytona we have a shot with our affiliation with Team Penske and the cars that everybody produces over there at the Wood Brothers,” Menard said. “They are always fast when they go to Daytona historically and the last several years certainly.
“Just getting down there and getting back in the swing of things back racing with the Clash and the Duels. It’s going to be a lot of fun to get back at it and obviously knowing that you have a shot.”
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