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Editor’s note: NASCAR.com continues its countdown of team previews for the Monster Energy Series season, ranked in order of best finish in last year’s owner standings. Today’s feature: Wood Brothers Racing and driver Paul Menard.
WOOD BROTHERS RACING
Engine: Roush Yates Engines (technical alliance with Team Penske)
Drivers: Paul Menard, No. 21
Crew chief: Greg Erwin
2018 standings: Menard finished 19th in the final standings, and the No. 21 car was 19th in the owner standings.
What’s new: It’s that everything won’t be new after a tremendous amount of change last year when Menard came to Wood Brothers Racing after seven seasons at Richard Childress Racing. After spending one year together, Menard and Erwin should know each other better and be able to improve on last season’s performance, which included one top-five finish (Michigan), seven top-10 finishes and one Busch Pole Award (Chicagoland).
Outlook: Menard made some strides in his first year with Wood Brothers Racing, but in order to break through to the playoffs, he will need to quickly take advantage of the new NASCAR rules package and have a few things go his way. However, it wouldn’t be surprising if he made just enough improvement to sneak into the Round of 16 this year.
Paul Menard, No. 21 Ford: Menard has made the playoffs as recently as the 2015 season, and his best average finish was 15.5 in 2012. After showing some regression in his final two seasons at RCR, Menard bounced back last year and provided hope that his second year with Wood Brothers Racing will be even better. Menard has been at his best in restrictor-plate races and on larger tracks like Michigan and Indianapolis, where he has his only Cup win (in 2011). In order to make a run at the playoffs, Menard will need to do just as well on the larger tracks and enjoy improvement on the intermediate and short tracks.
• Jan. 22: Assorted teams
• Jan. 23: Richard Petty Motorsports
• Jan. 24: Germain Racing
• Jan. 25: Leavine Family Racing
• Jan 28: Front Row Motorsports
• Jan. 29: JTG Daugherty Racing
• Jan. 30: Wood Brothers Racing
• Jan. 31: Roush Fenway Racing
• Feb. 1: Richard Childress Racing
• Feb. 4: Chip Ganasssi Racing
• Feb. 5: Hendrick Motorsports
• Feb. 6: Joe Gibbs Racing
• Feb. 7: Stewart-Haas Racing
• Feb. 8: Team Penske