Matt Crafton on standby to relieve Paul Menard at Talladega

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Wood Brothers Racing announced Thursday that Gander Outdoors Truck Series driver Matt Crafton will be on standby this weekend to relieve Paul Menard in Sunday’s Cup Series race at Talladega (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

Menard has been experiencing ongoing soreness and pain with his neck.

Crafton will spend time practicing the No. 21 Ford on Friday to get acclimated to the car. Menard plans to practice, qualify and start Sunday’s race.

Menard has six races left in his full-time Cup career after announcing his retirement last month.

“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 is prepared to finish out the race for me if needed,” Menard said in a press release. “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.”

Crafton, who is sponsored by Menards in the Truck Series, has made only one Cup start in the NASCAR career. He drove in place of Kyle Busch in the 2015 Daytona 500 after Busch suffered leg injuries in the previous day’s Xfinity Series race.

Crafton is currently fifth in the Truck Series playoff standings. The Truck Series race at Talladega is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. ET Saturday on FS1.