NASCAR Sprint Cup Auto Racing

Paul Menard talks with crew members during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sharpie 500 auto race at Bristol Motor Speedway in 2008 in Bristol, Tenn.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Paul Menard of Eau Claire will retire at the end of the NASCAR season and Wood Brothers Racing has hired Matt DiBenedetto to replace him in the iconic No. 21 Ford.

Menard has driven for Wood Brothers for two seasons, but has spent 16 years in the Cup Series. On Tuesday, he cited a desire to spend more time with his wife and two young children in stepping away from NASCAR’s grueling 38-race schedule.

The decision is a gift to DiBenedetto, who learned last month he wasn’t being retained at Leavine Family Racing next year. With few available rides available, DiBenedetto was unsure if he’d land in a competitive seat.