News Analysis: Ryan Blaney to Penske, Paul Menard to Wood Brothers

What happened: Team Penske will bring back its third Cup Series team — the No. 12 car — in a move to get driver Ryan Blaney under the same roof as Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano. Meanwhile, Paul Menard — who currently drives for Richard Childress Racing — will bring his Menards sponsorship to Wood Brothers Racing’s No. 21 car, where he will replace Blaney. Childress said it will announce its driver lineup for 2018 at a future date.

What it means: Although Blaney drove for the Wood Brothers, he was basically a Team Penske development driver — similar to the Erik Jones situation with Furniture Row Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing. So although Blaney was a potential Silly Season target, Penske wasn’t about to let him get away — thus the creation of a third team. Menard is a downgrade for the No. 21 car, but he brings 22 races worth of Menards sponsorship, which is something the Wood Brothers team can’t exactly pass up. Although the move may seem odd on the surface, Menards is sponsoring Simon Pagenaud’s IndyCar entry for 10 races this season and already has a relationship with Penske. Given the Wood Brothers are a Penske affiliate, this only strengthens that bond and is a healthy move for both parties. And obviously, Menard will have a consistently faster car in the No. 21 than he currently has in the No. 27.

News value (scale of 1-10): Six. Several elements make this situation notable — a new Cup car, an up-and-coming driver and a veteran switching teams. But since this move was anticipated for awhile, the lack of surprise takes a few points off the news value.

Three questions: Will RCR now contract to two cars or will it be able to find sponsorship to keep a third team? Where will Team Penske get its charter for the No. 12 car? Is there any way the typically great-looking No. 21 car will not be painful on the eyes with bright Menards sponsorship on it?


23 Replies to “News Analysis: Ryan Blaney to Penske, Paul Menard to Wood Brothers”

  1. I think your last question is most important. What can be done to keep that 21 from looking hideous next year?

    1. The 21 will look great for the races sponsored by Ford/Motorcraft/QuickLube. The 22 sponsored by Menards will be neon yellow!

  2. Not unexpected for Blaney, plus opens a spot at RCR for Ty — IF they are able to find sponsorship.

    1. Ding-ding! We have a winner! TyDillon to RCR.

      Then my guess from there is Kasey Kahne to #13, and Kenseth or some other 1-year deal to #5 to keep seat warm for Byron in 2019.

  3. At this point the Wood Brothers are essentially a wholly owned subsidiary of Penske. The crew, cars, engines are all supplied by Penske & Ford (Roush/Yates). Obviously the long time relationship between the Wood family and Ford are why they have the relationship with Penske. This deal is Penske telling the Woods what is going to happen, and the Woods being in no place but to comply.

    1. You always have a choice but money has away of helping make up your mind. I’ve always been a Wood Brothers fan not crazy about manard but you take the bitter with the sweet

  4. Another question is who will sponsor the 12 car? I’m surprised there was the announcement of adding a third team without a sponsorship announcement also.

          1. Kurt was hired personally by Gene Haas so I think that is an exception.

  5. Maybe SKF will sponsor Blaney’s 12? Grow a longtime Penske associate sponsor, etc. definitely wonder if Ty Dillon comes to RCR now. And where does that leave the 13 team? Could Mears come back?

  6. Does Penske even really need a charter for the 12? The majority of races this year have been less than 40 cars, which would lock Blaney in regardless. Or are there additional benefits to having the charter?

  7. Interesting about Menard… For quite some time now the Wood Brothers have brought in development drivers for other teams. Those drivers stay there a year or two and move on. It’s interesting that they’re going with a known driver, especially one with his talent. Money talks I guess.

  8. The Ty Dillon move under the RCR umbrella seems all but done now, if they can sponsor it. I’d say he will end up in the 33 car.

    Then there is the 13. Could that be a place where Kenseth ends up, or does the Biff return to fill that seat?

    Still lots of Silly Season Speculation to be had yet!

  9. I expect Childress to go to 2 teams. Unless some HUGE carrot is dangled in his face.

  10. You would have to have some sympathy for Ryan Newman if both Dillon brothers end up at RCR.

    I think Kennseth ends up here in Denver driving the #77 car for Furniture Row.

  11. Biffle, that’s as ridiculous as Edwards. Boggle has legal problems for having hidden cameras in the bedroom and bathroom of his ex wife and mother in law.
    RCR just lost a ton of sponsorship money and no way to replace it by running the Dillon boys. Richard will be running a two car team next year, period. If he sponsors out of pocket for his grandsons then he goes bye bye and broke. RCR is looking a lot like Roush, a second tier team. Newman has won his last cup race, and Austin has a gas mileage win in 4 seasons, wow.

  12. One possibility not mentioned is perhaps Germain Racing merging into RCR, bringing Ty Dillion and GEICO? Germain has been trying for years to break out of the middle of the pack and join Barney Visser in the big team category, but it is just not happening.

    As for charters, don’t be surprised if there will be more charters for sale/lease, than car owners wanting to obtain them by the time they rolling into Daytona next year.

  13. It’ll be interesting to see how charters move around as one will be needed for Penske and/or Wood Bros. There’s obviously some that will be available, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Germain team full brought into RCR as a third team. Brings everything they need.

  14. I’m willing to bet that Verizon will be coming back to sponsor Blaney in the 12 now that Sprint is gone.

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