In 2018 Paul Menard will no longer be driving for Richard Childress Racing, he’ll now be racing the Wood Brothers #21. The #21 is a Penske Racing satellite team which means Paul Menard will find himself in a more competitive situation. In terms of his equipment I think this car will be a full step better than his last ride. That said I’m not sure how much more competitive Paul Menard will be in better equipment. This upcoming season I would look for him to be marginally on a weekly basis.
Strengths – In 2018 look for Paul Menard’s fantasy NASCAR production to be at it’s highest at intermediate tracks, plate tracks and road courses. Paul Menard also does a really good job avoiding bad results. Last year in the second half of the season he only once finished outside the top 30.
Weaknesses – Flat tracks and short tracks aren’t an area of strength.
Track Type Fantasy Value Key = Elite > High > Medium-High > Medium > Low
Intermediate Track Fantasy Value – Medium-High
Intermediate tracks have historically been friendly to Paul Menard. Last year he had a dismal season at these venues and had a 23rd place average finish. It was clearly an off-year for him on this track type and was his least competitive season this decade.
In 2018 I think Paul Menard should perform better at intermediate tracks. Richard Childress Racing wasn’t competitive last year and his new ride, the #21 will be a step up. Last year in this car Ryan Blaney was very competitive and competed for wins. Paul Menard isn’t on the same talent level as Blaney so similar results shouldn’t be expected, but you should look for him to be a solid mid-teens driver on a weekly basis at intermediate tracks.
Flat Track Fantasy Value – Medium
Flat tracks aren’t an area of strength for Menard. Last year on this track type he scored the 24th most points. Over the last five seasons on this track type his average points ranking is 23rd, with him scoring between the 18th to 26th most points every year.
Last year over the 9 combined races at flat tracks Menard only had 1 top fifteen, 5 top twenty results and a 20.7 average finish.
In 2017 at the bigger flat tracks Menard finished between 16th to 19th in all three events. Last year at the smaller flat tracks he was less competitive. He finished 15th at Phoenix in the fall, but his other 5 results at these shorter venues was between 21st and 28th.
In 2018 on this track type I think he should be slightly more competitive and likely be about a mid-teens to low-twenties driver at these tracks on a weekly basis.
Short Track Fantasy Value – Medium
Short tracks are “Skill tracks”, so don’t look for his change of scenery to suddenly make him more competitive on this track type in 2018. Last year on this track type he had a 20.7 average finish and failed to finish in the top fifteen. Four of his results were between 16th to 20th, and all of his results were in the top 28.
At short tracks Paul Menard is by far at his best at Bristol. Last year he finished 16th both races. Over the last 12 races there he has 9 results of 16th or better. At Martinsville and Richmond it’s extremely likely no good will come from picking him.
Restrictor Plate Track Fantasy Value – High
Like most drivers, Paul Menard is capable of coming home with really good results at plate tracks. Last year at these venues he scored the 3rd most points and had the second best average finish (7.3). Also over the four races at these venues he finished in the top five twice, top ten three-times and was the only driver who finished in the top fifteen every race. Over the last seven season’s on this track type, 3 times he’s finished in the top four in terms of points accumulated.
Last year at Daytona, Menard was the only driver who swept the top five and he came home with results of 3rd and 5th. At Talladega he’s been very solid recently. Since 2015 minus a spring 2016 wreck he’s finished in the top 13 every race and has a 9th place average finish.
Road Course Track Fantasy Value – Medium-High
Over the last 6 years at road courses Paul Menard has accumulated between the 12th to 19th most points on this track type. Last year he scored the 15th most points and had a 14.5 average finish. In 2018 on this track type I think he might be slightly more competitive in his new ride.
At Sonoma, Menard has proven to be a solid performer. Over the last five races there he has an 11.8 average finish. At Watkins Glen since 2012 minus 2014 when he had problems he has a 16.4 average finish.