When Paul Menard announced a few weeks ago that 2019 would be his final full-time season in the NASCAR Cup Series, I’m sure he hoped he could make it the balance of the season stress free.
Unfortunately, Menard is being plagued with neck soreness and pain. As a result, two-time NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Champion Matt Crafton will be on standby for Menard, if he needs to exit the No. 21 Ford Mustang.
Menard said the decision to potentially exit the car came after advice from his doctor and wife that he shouldn’t risk injuring himself worse.
“Due to neck issues I’ve been battling, and talking it over with my wife, team and doctors, I’ve made the decision to be sure Matt (Crafton) is prepared to finish out the race for me if needed,” said Menard. “I’m a race car driver and a competitor, but I also need to be smart and take care of myself for my family. As I want what is best for the Wood Brothers and my 21 family, I know Matt can get in there if need be and mix it up and will do a great job.”
Wood Brothers Racing made the announcement on Thursday via a press release.
In addition to being on standby on Sunday, Crafton will also take some practice laps in the No. 21 car on Friday at Talladega Superspeedway, so if he is thrust into action in the 1000Bulbs.com 500, he’ll be ready to contend.
Crafton has one previous Cup Series start on his resume, which came in the Daytona 500 in 2015.
Subbing for the injured Kyle Busch, Menard started fourth and finished 18th in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry.
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