Title: NASCAR Sprint Cup driver
HOMETOWN: Eau Claire, Wis.BIRTHDATE: Aug. 21, 1980
The newest driver to join the Ford Racing family is Paul Menard, who will drive the No. 98 Menards Fusion for Yates Racing in 2009.
A native of Eau Claire, Wis., Menard will be in his third season as a full-time competitor in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and first with Yates after a four-year relationship with Dale Earnhardt Inc.
Menard is coming off the best season of his brief career in which he finished 26th in the final point standings and recorded his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole (Daytona in July). Restrictor plate tracks seemed to provide his highlights in 2008 as he registered his best career finish on the high banks of Talladega Superspeedway in October with a second-place showing.
Perseverance is probably the best way to describe Menard’s career to this point. After making his series debut with car owner Andy Petree in ‘03 on the road course of Watkins Glen International (finished 29th), Menard was out of the Cup Series for two years until running at the Glen for DEI in ‘05.
He parlayed that relationship into a seven-race limited schedule in ‘06 and showed a great deal of potential, highlighted by a seventh-place finish in the spring race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
With a full-season sponsor in place for ‘07, Menard ran the entire schedule for the first time and qualified for 30 of the 36 events, finishing 34th in the point standings.
Even during his part-time schedule in Cup, Menard was busy getting experience in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, where he competed full-time from 2004-2006.
Like many of the young drivers today, Menard took a step-by-step approach through various series to get to NASCAR’s top level. Before debuting with Petree on the NASCAR scene, Menard got some further seasoning in the ARCA ReMax Series, where he finished fourth in his first appearance at Salem Speedway, and took the checkered flag in his first trip to Talladega in ‘03.
Prior to that, he cut his teeth at the age of eight racing go-karts in Wisconsin and after winning his share of championships in that form of racing, he graduated to the ice and raced in a number of International Ice Racing Association events. Menard has also done his share of late model, legends car and off-road racing as well.