Paul Menard is one of the mellowest drivers in the garage area. He is never embroiled in any controversies and quietly goes about doing his own thing. Paul has caught a lot of flak in the past due to the fact that his father’s company has been plastered across the hood of almost every car he’s ever driven. A certain contingent of fans attacked him (including me) because not only did he get to NASCAR with help from his dad, but he wasn’t finishing well. Most of that talk has ceased in recent years with Paul performing at a much better level with Richard Childress Racing. I now have a lot of respect for this guy realizing that I was wrong and can’t wait to see him win some more races and he will win more races.
It seems that every year, he starts well but fades around race four or five ending up in the mid-teens with a decent year. Well, we are eight races into 2013 and the Wisconsin native has finished inside the top 10 in half of the races run so far and comfortably sits 10th in the standings ahead of his Richard Childress Racing counterparts. He has been outperforming both of his teammates and if you combined the amount of top 10’s Burton and Harvick have in 2013, they still don’t match Menard’s numbers. If you look at the timeline of his career, you can see that Menard’s been making monumental progress on the track every year with results steadily improving showing that he’s learning and adapting. At 32 years old, he is at the age that most people would consider the prime of a race car driver’s career and don’t be surprised if you see him put that Menards Chevrolet in the chase. The car doesn’t seem capable of taking Joe Gibbs Racing and Hendrick Motorsports head-on right now and winning races, but they will get there.
Most don’t know this but Paul’s first two major motorsport victories came in the Rolex Sports Car Series back in 2002. In impressive fashion, he won his in his first and second ever starts in sports cars racing on road courses proving at the age of 21 that he is fully capable of winning. Unfortunately, the natural talent he has was overshadowed when people saw the son of billionaire John Menard show up in NASCAR with his own last name all over the cars he was racing. There are still fans out there that give him hell for how he got here, but the guy is performing so who really cares. They should just be happy that a true racer made his way into NASCAR no matter what path he took.
I don’t hear anyone bad mouth the Burton’s but that’s simply because they are unaware to the fact that Jeff and Ward’s father had money and owned JE Burton Construction. In the end though, both of them proved they belong winning multiple races including the 2002 Daytona 500.
Menard is proving his worth as well and I can see him winning many more races throughout his career. He reminds me of Matt Kenseth who is also a very smooth racer rarely involving himself in drama and quietly posting excellent results every week. It’s a very rare occurrence to see Menard involved in a crash, especially one caused by him.
He’s incredibly underrated and one of the most solid drivers in the garage area. I had the pleasure of meeting his crew chief Slugger Labbe a couple years back when my brother worked with the team and I could tell then that his rather exuberant personality really compliments the laid back, reserved one of Paul Menard making them a perfect pair.
Keep up the good work team No.27 and good luck in the rest of 2013!