DAYTONA BEACH, Fla – One name to keep an eye out on for Sunday’s 60th annual Daytona 500 is Paul Menard. While the Team Penske trio is stealing all the headlines among the favorites, we can’t sleep on Menard either. He recently moved from Richard Childress Racing to the Wood Brothers for the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season and should immediately be a favorite for this weekend’s season opener.
One reason is the Wood Brothers are a Ford team. Ford drivers have won seven straight points paying restrictor plate races, dating back to Talladega in 2016. Also, they have by far been the most stable and quickest manufacturer out of the three manufacturers during this year’s entire Speedweeks. To me, this is Fords race to lose.
Another reason is the Wood Brothers have always been very good in restrictor plate races. So has Menard. Last year, Menard has four top 12 finishes in the four plate races (5th, 9th, 3rd and 12th respectively). At Daytona, he was in the top five in each.
Plus, Ryan Blaney came home second in the ‘500 in this very same Wood Brothers car last year as well.
On top of all of that, the Wood Brothers has a technical alliance with Penske, meaning that this is basically a fourth Penske car.
What’s all of this spell?
A Daytona 500 sleeper, one that we shouldn’t be surprised to see in victory lane this weekend. If he does take the No. 21 Ford to victory lane, it would mark the 100th Cup victory for the historic team and Menard’s second Cup win in his career. His wins would have been in the Brickyard 400 and Daytona 500.