Matt Crafton, a three-time champion of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, will take on a fill-in position for Sunday's Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, driving the No. 51 Ford Mustang for Rick Ware Racing.
Crafton, who last competed in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2019, will be filling in for the entry's normal driver, Cody Ware, as he steps away from racing this weekend to attend to a personal issue.
On Saturday, Rick Ware Racing released a statement to the public, confirming that Ware would sit out this weekend's on-track activities and that Crafton would serve as the team's interim driver.
"Cody Ware will step away from racing this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway to focus on a personal matter. Matt Crafton will drive the No. 51 Ford Mustang for Rick Ware Racing. Crafton has more than 500 overall starts in his NASCAR career, winning back-to-back NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championships in 2013 and 2014. The ware family asks that their privacy be respected during this time."
This season, Ware has competed in each of the first seven NASCAR Cup Series events on the schedule, scoring three top-25 results at Daytona, Atlanta, and Circuit of The Americas.
Despite his illustrious experience throughout NASCAR's National divisions, Crafton has only made a pair of NASCAR Cup Series starts, one in 2015 and one in 2019, where he scored top-25 results on both occasions.
In 2015, Crafton was named the fill-in driver for the season-opening Daytona 500, after Kyle Busch broke his leg in a crash in the NASCAR Xfinity Series event one day prior.
Additionally, on four separate occasions, the 46-year-old driver has been called upon to practice and qualify for drivers in their absences, including Robby Gordon, Paul Menard, and Martin Truex, Jr.
Crafton will have his first on-track opportunity with NASCAR's NextGen car, should the NASCAR Cup Series get the chance to run its qualifying races on Saturday, prior to Sunday's Food City Dirt Race.
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