Crafton has successful debut

SPARTA, KY - JUNE 28: Matt Crafton, driver of the #33 Menards/Rheem Chevrolet, looks on during qualifying for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Feed The Children 300 at Kentucky Speedway on June 28, 2013 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
SPARTA, KY - JUNE 28:  Matt Crafton, driver of the #33 Menards/Rheem Chevrolet, looks on during qualifying for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Feed The Children 300 at Kentucky Speedway on June 28, 2013 in Sparta, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
SPARTA, KY – JUNE 28: Matt Crafton, driver of the #33 Menards/Rheem Chevrolet, looks on during qualifying for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Feed The Children 300 at Kentucky Speedway on June 28, 2013 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

SPARTA, Ky. –Matt Crafton finished third Friday night in his Nationwide Series debut in his first opportunity to drive a Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. The finish was no surprise, given his talent; more unusual was how long it took Crafton to get behind the wheel of a Nationwide car.

Crafton has had NNS offers in the past. He was simply waiting for the right offer, and this one came together with the help of sponsors Menards and Rheem.

John Menard, founder of the home-improvement retailer, lobbied for Crafton. So did son Paul Menard, a full-time Sprint Cup driver for RCR and an occasional driver of the No. 33 Nationwide ride Crafton took to a podium finish on Friday.

Menards sponsors Crafton’s No. 88 ThorSport Toyota in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, where Crafton currently leads the points standings. Aggressive on the track, Crafton was the very model of patience when it came to delaying his NNS debut until the time was right.

“I guess I was picky,” he acknowledged after the race. “I’ve had the opportunity to go run Nationwide cars, and you’re going to run 15th at best. I would rather go Truck racing and know that I can win — win races and win championships.

“That means a lot more to me. At the end of the day, to run 15th to 40th in a Nationwide race — that doesn’t matter to me… I wanted to drive something good, and it came down to Menards making this happen.”

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.