DiBenedetto in at Wood Brothers in 2020, Menard retires
It didn’t take Matt DiBenedetto long to secure a new ride in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for next season.
Wood Brothers Racing announced on Tuesday that its current Cup driver, Paul Menard, will step away from fulltime NASCAR competition following the conclusion of the 2019 season and DiBenedetto will join the team to drive the iconic No. 21 Ford beginning next year.
DiBenedetto, despite enjoying his most competitive season in the Cup series, was recently told he would not be returning to Leavine Family Racing’s No. 95 Toyota next season.
“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. 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,” said Menard.
“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.”
Over the last two seasons, Menard has driven the No. 21 Ford for Wood Brothers Racing, which formed a technical alliance with Team Penske in 2015.
He has competed in the series more than 16 seasons and owns one career win, the 2011 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, when he was at Richard Childress Racing. He also scored three wins in the Xfinity Series.
The situation at the Wood Brothers must have changed very recently. During a media session on July 12 at Kentucky Speedway, Menard was asked about his status for 2020 and replied: “I have a good job, for sure. I love the Wood Brothers. I love my race team. They are good people. I have a contract for next year."
DiBenedetto, 28, has been one of the most productive drivers in NASCAR’s premiere series over the last few months with six top-10 finishes over the last 10 races, including three top-fives.
“I am so excited about this opportunity to race for one of the most successful teams in NASCAR history beginning in 2020,” said DiBenedetto. “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.”
Team president and co-owner Eddie Wood added: “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.”
Matt DiBenedetto, Leavine Family Racing, Toyota Camry Horizon Transport
Photo by: Russell LaBounty / NKP / LAT Images
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