NASCAR: Top drivers of 2014 – No. 21 Paul Menard

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Paul Menard

Season finish: 21st

2014 Season Stats: 0 wins, 5 top-5, 13 top-10, 0 Poles.

What went right: Menard had one of the most consistent seasons performance-wise of his career, with single-season bests in top fives and top 10s. He came close to winning at Las Vegas (finished third) and had identical fourth-place showings in both races at Michigan. He also finished the season with momentum, ending up fourth at Homestead. Some of his best performances came on 1.5- and 2-mile tracks such as Texas, Michigan and Fontana. He also had success in the Nationwide Series: In eight starts, he had one win (spring race at Michigan, his first NNS win since 2006), three top-five and five top-10 finishes.

What went wrong: While Menard had good performance overall, he has now gone 3 ½ years without a win (his lone Sprint Cup triumph being the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis in 2011). He also had his worst season finish (21st) since 2010, when he ended up 23rd. He also had a chance to make the Chase, but failed to do so. He came into the September Richmond race ranked 14th, which would have put him in the Chase. Unfortunately, he finished 18th in that race, which dropped him to 20th in the standings, falling four positions short of qualifying for the 10-race playoffs.

2015 Prospectus: Menard saw crew chief Slugger Labbe replaced after the fall Charlotte race and finished the final five races of 2014 with former team engineer Justin Alexander atop the pit box, a role that will continue in 2015. This is Alexander’s first-ever crew chief job in NASCAR, having previously served seven years as an engineer at Hendrick Motorsports. There were promising signs with Alexander as crew chief in those last five races of 2014, including a fourth-place finish at Homestead, 14th at Martinsville and 17th at Texas. Labbe, meanwhile, has moved to an R&D position within Richard Childress Racing. Menard should have a good 2015 season, but he has to improve on his overall position both in race finishes, as well as season standing.

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IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.