Thursday, October 2, 2008
Why Paul Menard is a great addition to Yates Racing
It's very simple. Paul Menard brings to Yates what all NASCAR teams need, in order to survive. $. Yep that's it.
It doesn't matter that Menard has not won a race in the Sprint Cup series. He did win one in the Nationwide series, back when it was still called the Busch series. In the Cup series, he has exactly one top 10 finish, which came as a 7th place finish at Atlanta in 2006. That's out of a total of 68 races thus far in the Cup series.
I'm not saying that Paul Menard is not a good race car driver. I'm just saying that a driver without a built in sponsor, which is what Paul brings to the game, would not even be in the series at all. Paul's father, John Menard, is the owner of Menards, a major mid western home improvement chain. John Menard is the richest person in the state of Wisconsin, as of 2007, according to an online encyclopedia.
Having a rich father certainly helps a young race car driver succeed. Many people attribute Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s success to the fact that his father was a successful race car driver, and not that Dale Jr. could possibly have any talent of his own. That point of view is foolish at best, and ridiculous at worst, because drivers with no talent who win the Busch series championship 2 years in a row and 18 Cup races by the time they are 33 years old are rare indeed.
Paul Menard is not among the top tier of drivers in NASCAR, and never has been. However, as long as Menard's keeps doing business, and as long as his father believes in his son, Paul Menard will have a sponsor. Is this a trend that will become more prevelant in NASCAR in the future? It's difficult to say.
As long as money is the life blood of all NASCAR teams, any driver with a built in sponsor will be poplular. Race wins or championships will not make any difference, as long as the bucks keep pouring in. Yates Racing, now run by Doug Yates, has done what his organization needed to do to keep the doors open for next year. They hired a guy with a rich dad. Does this cheapen the sport in any way? I say yes, it does.
There are drivers out there that cannot get a job anymore. They have won races in the past. Steve Park comes to mind. Though he's had some terrible accidents, Steve is a proven Cup winner. He drove for DEI, basically as the company's first Cup driver. His dad doesn't own a multimillion dollar business though.
Once again, I have no beef with Paul Menard. If racing is what he wants to do, then so be it. I find it somewhat of a shame when Paul gets a ride with Yates Racing, and Steve Park is still on the outside, looking in.