Ryan Blaney Joining Team Penske; Paul Menard To Wood Brothers In 2018


July 26, 2017

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is going to look much different in 2018.

Ryan Blaney, who for the last two seasons has driven the No. 21 for Wood Brothers Racing, will join Team Penske next season, the team announced Wednesday. Paul Menard, currently a member of Richard Childress Racing, will fill Blaney’s seat at Wood Brothers.

To make room for Blaney, who already competes for Penske in the Xfinity Series, the team will add a third car to its Cup team: the No. 12 Ford Fusion.

“For some time now, we have wanted to bring Ryan in to run a third car for us, but things just needed to make sense from a timing and business perspective,” team owner Roger Penske said in a statement. “We have been working on making this a reality and 2018 is the right opportunity to make this move and return our organization to a three-car team.”

The move isn’t entirely surprising, as the general feeling around NASCAR was that Blaney had become too big for Wood Brothers, which, despite a rich history in the sport, functions as a satellite program for Penske these days.

Earlier this season, the 23-year-old driver brought Wood Brothers its first Cup victory since 2011. Clearly talented, Blaney’s ascension to Penske will bolster an already great Cup team that currently includes Joey Logano and the recently extended Brad Keselowski.

“This is a huge opportunity for me and my career,” Blaney said in a statement. “I’ve always enjoyed racing whatever car I was in and trying to win each and every race. I’ve had some great moments with both Team Penske and the Wood Brothers over the last few years.

” … I’m thrilled knowing that Brad and Joey are long-term teammates for me at Team Penske. … Hopefully we can go out there and win races and compete for championships year after year.”

Blaney’s impending seat change continues what’s already been a busy silly season in NASCAR. Joe Gibbs Racing previously announced that Erik Jones will replace Matt Kenseth in the No. 20 next year, and Alex Bowman is set to fill Dale Earnhardt’s seat at Hendrick Motorsports.

Thumbnail photo via Matthew O’Haren/USA TODAY Sports Images

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