Matt Crafton on standby for Paul Menard at Vegas
March 05, 2014, Staff report, NASCAR.com
Paul Menard will have a standby on hand for this weekend's Sprint Cup Series event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, as the Richard Childress Racing driver and his wife await the birth of the couple's first child.
Matt Crafton, the reigning champion of the Camping World Truck Series, will be at the 1.5-mile track in case Menard gets the call to return home. Crafton is scheduled to compete in the facility's Nationwide Series event, in a No. 33 car also owned by Childress. The vehicles of Menard and Crafton are both sponsored by Menard's.
"It's tough, because you just don’t know when or even if it will happen, but kind of like that backup quarterback, you have to be ready at any time,” Crafton said. “Paul and I have been good friends going back to 2001. We’ve raced together and I actually spotted for him early in his career. For him to have the confidence in me to get the job done if he has to head back home -- that’s awesome."
Menard stands 23rd in points after a 23rd-place finish this past weekend at Phoenix. Crafton has never competed in a Sprint Cup Series race.
Las Vegas marks the second consecutive weekend a key player in the Sprint Cup Series has been on baby watch. Paul Wolfe, crew chief for 2012 champion Brad Keselowski, left Phoenix last Saturday to be with his wife for the birth of the couple's first son. Keselowski finished third the next day with Penske Nationwide competition director Greg Erwin and engineer Brian Wilson calling the shots.