Coming off a career year in 2010, Menard finds himself with a golden opportunity in 2011. After finishing a career-best 23rd in the standings and compiling a career-best 19.8 average finish last season, Menard will join Richard Childress Racing this season. The move puts him behind the wheel of championship-caliber equipment for the first time in his career, which could set up a breakout season for Menard.
His 2010 success was unexpected to say the least. From 2003 to 2009, Menard had managed just two top-10 finishes. Last year, he piled up six. On top of that, his average finish was nearly six full spots better than in any other season of his career. If the move to RCR can improve that average by just a spot or two, Menard should easily be a top-20 driver.
Tempering expectations is always the safer approach, but fantasy owners have to like what they saw out of Menard at the 1.5-mile tracks last season. Five of his six top-10 finishes came at 1.5-mile tracks, including a top-five run at Atlanta. He wasn't exactly a one-trick pony. Although his road racing skills need some work, Menard averaged a top-20 finish at short tracks last season and posted a 17.2 average finish at the superspeedways.
A repeat of those numbers makes Menard a solid third-round pick in Draft and Play leagues, and he should provide significant value at certain tracks in all fantasy formats. Offseason changes don't always work out as well as they should on paper, but Menard certainly seems to be in a perfect situation to succeed in 2011. He just has to take advantage of the opportunity.
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