By Toby Christie (Originally appeared on RubbingsRacing.com)
Currently in the top-12 in Sprint Cup Series points there are some familiar faces, but there is also a guy by the name of Paul Menard sitting in ninth.
It is probably the most improbable of stories, and certainly something that nobody in the media expected. Menard through his career has had his talent questioned left and right… Some even say if his father’s company (Menard’s) didn’t bring sponsorship everywhere he went he’d be gone by now. However after five races in the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season he sits among the sports elite.
Menard’s highest finish in the point standings was a 26th place effort back in the 2008 season.
So how exactly did this happen over night? Well in the offseason the team Menard drives for (Yates Racing) paired up with Richard Petty Motorsports in an effort to make both teams stronger, and boy has it ever done that.
Kasey Kahne, who hasn’t gotten the finishes he wants, has looked extremely competitive. A.J. Allmendinger and Elliott Sadler have also shown signs of brilliance, but what Menard has done is outstanding. He hasn’t lit the world on fire by any means, as his 18th place finish at Bristol proves. Menard was able to get his second career top-five finish with a fifth-place run at Atlanta. Along with that great finish Menard has avoided the little mistakes and incidents that separate greatness from mediocrity.
“We’ve had top-20 cars in all four races so far and we’ve been able to capitalize on it,” Menard said before Sunday’s 18th place finish at Bristol.
“I think sometimes that’s the difference between being 30th in points and ninth,” Menard added.
It will be intriguing to see if he can keep it up, but I for one am glad to see a fresh face near the front.