Ryan Blaney to drive third Penske car in 2018, Paul Menard to No. 21

From The Marbles
Menard (L) will drive the No. 21 in 2018 as Blaney (R) moves to the No. 12. (Getty)
Menard (L) will drive the No. 21 in 2018 as Blaney (R) moves to the No. 12. (Getty)

Team Penske is expanding to three cars in 2018 and the Wood Brothers are getting a driver from Richard Childress Racing.

Ryan Blaney will move from the Wood Brothers’ No. 21 car to the Penske No. 12 car in 2018 as a teammate to Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano. Paul Menard will take Blaney’s place in the No. 21 car, as he moves from Richard Childress Racing, where he’s been since 2011.

“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 Penske 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 benefits of having three full-time teams under our roof, along with the continued technical partnership with the Wood Bothers, will help us remain competitive in the ever-changing NASCAR landscape.”

Blaney, who has been under contract with Team Penske, has spent the past three seasons with the Wood Brothers, who have a technical affiliation with Penske. The team moved to a full-time schedule in 2017 and Blaney got his first-career win at Pocono in June. Pocono is the site of Sunday’s race.

No sponsor has been named for Blaney’s ride and the team said it would be announced at a later date. Penske has been a two-car team ever since Sam Hornish left the No. 77 car at the end of the 2010 season.

Menard has struggled in 2017 and is the only winless member of RCR. Though, to be fair, Ryan Newman and Austin Dillon scored their wins via strategy plays and not through outright speed.

Menard is 23rd in the points. He was 25th a year ago after making the playoffs in 2015. He brings sponsorship to the No. 21 from his family’s home improvement chain. It’ll be jarring to see the car in fluorescent Menards’ yellow after the crisp red and white Motorcraft paint scheme that Blaney has driven.

While Penske is expanding to three cars, RCR said in a statement that it plans to stay at three cars in 2018. To do so, the team will need to find a replacement for Menard. One candidate could be Austin Dillon’s brother Ty, who is spending the 2017 season with Germain Racing, a team that has a technical affiliation with RCR.

The moves make a flurry of 2018 contract activity that began Thursday with Alex Bowman’s announcement as Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s successor in the No. 88. Tuesday, Keselowski signed an extension with Team Penske. Don’t be surprised if there’s more driver movement as the fall approaches.

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of Dr. Saturday and From the Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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