Menard plans to stay with Childress

Paul Menard says he is “close” to re-signing with Richard Childress Racing.

On Friday, Menard said he’s “looking forward” to making an announcement soon that he will remain in the No. 27 Menard’s Chevrolet.

“We don’t have anything to announce yet,” Menard said. “I haven’t signed anything. Hopefully, we do that soon.

“We’re just going to work hard to get the deal done and when we do, we’ll let you know.”

Menard, 32, is currently ninth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings. He’s remained in the top 10 for seven of 10 weeks this season and earned three consecutive top-10 finishes at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway and Auto Club Speedway earlier this year.

In 2004, Menard ran his first full NASCAR season for Andy Petree Racing in the Nationwide Series. His best Nationwide Series effort, however, came six years later behind the wheel of the No. 98 Roush Fenway Racing Ford in 2010. Menard finished fifth in the Nationwide points standings that season.

He made his Sprint Cup debut with Petree in 2003 but did not compete full time until he drove the No. 15 for Dale Earnhardt Inc. in 2007. After two seasons, Menard moved to Yates Racing. In 2010, he was aligned with crew chief Richard “Slugger” Labbe and Menard’s consistency picked up considerably with one top-five and six top-10 finishes – which was a career-best at the time.

Since Menard and Labbe joined RCR as a package deal in 2011, the driver has experienced the best three seasons of his Cup career, a stretch that includes a victory at the Brickyard 400. In 2012, Menard finished a career-high 16th in the points standings with an average finish of 15.5.

“It’s a great place,” Menard said of Richard Childress Racing. “We’re making a lot of improvements also. When I came in we were running real good. It seemed like last year we took a step back but Richard has invested a lot in making the company better and we’re seeing that right now. It’s a very exciting place to be.”

Labbe signed an extension two weeks ago. His contract runs through 2016. Labbe’s first opportunity as a Cup crew chief came in 1997 with Kenny Irwin Jr. Prior to joining Menard’s effort in 2011, the 44-year-old Saco, Maine, native worked with Michael Waltrip, Dale Jarrett and Sterling Marlin.