We touched on it briefly in Monday's Power Rankings, but it bears repeating:
Paul Menard is sixth in the points standings and he's the highest ranking Richard Childress Racing driver.
Sure, we're only three races deep in the season and Jeff Burton is mired in 32nd in the points standings (and you know he won't finish there). But Menard has gotten a lot of flack for being a product of his family's money, and maybe it's time that he got his due as a legitimate Sprint Cup driver.
In the previous three seasons, Menard had just eight DNFs in 98 races and ran well at times with RPM last season -- especially at intermediate tracks. Now that he's in top-flight equipment at RCR, he's making the most of his opportunity, finishing ninth, 17th and 12th in 2011.
Menard may not be a serious Chase contender -- you have to think that the odds still say that he'll finish the season as the fourth ranked RCR driver -- but barring an unforeseen disaster, he'll finish in the top 20.
And where did the attitude that Menard has been given a Cup ride because of his family riches come from anyway? Before moving to the Sprint Cup circuit full-time, Menard finished sixth in back to back seasons in the Nationwide Series and until this season, hasn't been in the best of equipment.
Menard's just 30, so he's probably going to be a fixture in the Cup Series for years to come. Will he win a championship? Probably not, but he'll probably grab a race win or two before his career is over and may contend for a Chase berth in the future.
You know what? That'd be a darn fine NASCAR career if you ask me.