Paul Menard's retirement creates place for Matt DiBenedetto at Wood Brothers Racing
Wood Brothers Racing announced Tuesday morning that Paul Menard would retire from full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competition at the end of the 2019 season and Matt DiBenedetto would take over the seat in the #21 Ford in 2020.
“We want to thank Paul Menard for his dedication to the team over the last two seasons. We’re looking forward to a strong finish to 2019 and we wish him nothing but the best for the future,” Wood Brothers Racing President and co-owner Eddie Wood said. “All of us at Wood Brothers Racing are excited to welcome Matt DiBenedetto to the team beginning next season. Matt has shown a lot of promise on track and everyone has seen it in his results this season, especially over the past several months. We want to continue to build on that success together as we gear up for 2020 and the future of Wood Brothers Racing.”
Menard made his debut in the Cup Series in 2003 and raced in the series part time before going full-time as a Cup driver in 2008. In 461-career races, he won once in the 2011 Brickyard 400 as a driver for Richard Childress Racing. He moved from RCR to Wood Brothers ahead of the 2018 season. Menard also drove for teams including Dale Earnhardt Inc., Yates Racing and Richard Petty Motorsports.
“I’ve enjoyed every moment of my career racing in the NASCAR Cup Series, and I’m so thankful for all the great memories and friendships I’ve made through this sport,” Menard said. "But I’m looking forward to spending more time at home with my wife Jennifer and our two young children while moving forward with the next chapter of my life. “I want to thank everyone at Wood Brothers Racing, along with Team Penske, and our partners at Menards, Motorcraft, Quick Lane Tire & Auto Centers and Ford. It’s been a privilege to work with them and some of the true legends of our sport, including Andy Petree, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Robert Yates, Richard Petty, Richard Childress, Roger Penske and Glen and Leonard Wood. I’m excited for what the future holds and I’m looking forward to sharing the plans for 2020 and beyond in the coming weeks.”
DiBenedetto is in his first season as driver of the #95 Leavine Family Racing Toyota, but his release from that team was announced days before he finished second to Denny Hamlin at Bristol Motor Speedway last month. The Bristol finish was a career-best. DiBenedetto has 166-career starts, going full-time in the Cup Series in 2015. Before LFR, he drove for BK Racing and Go FAS Racing.
“I am so excited about this opportunity to race for one of the most successful teams in NASCAR history beginning in 2020,” DiBenedetto said. “The No. 21 Ford is one of the most accomplished and iconic cars in our sport, and it will be an honor to join Wood Brothers Racing and help carry on the team’s tradition of success in NASCAR. I want to thank Eddie and Len Wood, Kim Wood Hall, Menards, Edsel Ford and Ford Motor Company for this opportunity.”