Matt and Ashley Crafton celebrate first daughter's birth
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' championship leader Matt Crafton has some serious work to do between now and May 16, the opening day of practice for the next series race, at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Crafton and his wife, Ashley, need to ease their newborn daugher, Elladee Ann, off her first favorite habit -- catching a few winks on her father's chest.
"She's already so spoiled," Crafton said of his daughter's birth 10 days ago, on April 26. "The only place she really likes to sleep is on my chest, so we're trying to wean her off that."
The birth of the Craftons' first child had them overflowing with anticipation. But for the driver who assumed the Truck Series' points lead less than two weeks ago after a combination of Crafton's win in the series' last race, at Kansas Speedway and a penalty to his ThorSport Racing teammate Johnny Sauter that reversed their first and second positions in the standings, the reality of having a child is mind-boggling.
"Everybody tells you how it feels, how you're going to feel and how much you'll love having a child of your own," Crafton said. "But it's way, way more than I ever, ever thought it could possibly be. It's indescribable, really..."
Crafton laughed when he described his current state of mind as "good, though maybe a little sleep-deprived -- but it's all good." He said he and Ashley have the exchanges between feeding (her) and changing (him) down to a smooth routine.
And he laughed again when he was asked how he thought things would level-off when the Truck Series gets back to racing. Including the Charlotte event on May 17 the series has four races in the space of seven weeks.
"I wish I could tell you when (the routine) might level off," Crafton said. "I gotta go with business as usual as much as I can, and I honestly can't tell you how much we're enjoying this."
Back at the ThorSport Racing shops in Sandusky, Crafton's crew chief "Junior" Joiner grinned even wider than normal, recently, when he thought about the circumstances of Elladee's birth. The Craftons' child's birth came six days after Crafton's win in Kansas -- which was shades of Sauter's victory two years ago at Martinsville, which preceded the birth of he and wife Cortney's daugher, Paige, by just days.
At Kansas, an emotional Joiner had told of how important the number "26" was in his family's racing history, as Crafton's win came in Joiner's 26th race as his crew chief. Elladee's birth on April 26th was icing on the cake for Joiner.
"Is that cool or what?" Joiner said last week, shaking his head and smiling -- coincidentally even as his wife walked around the corner of the finish fabrication area carrying their infant son. "I told you that was a magic number. When Matt called and told me it was 'go time,' I told him it was the 26th -- what else did he expect?
"The only thing that would've been cooler would have been if my son was born on December 26th, but that's all right. Grandpa's looking out for us this year, (26) was his number, it was the day I was born and my dad's number when he drove, so it was all pretty neat."
And the whipped cream on that cake for Joiner was Crafton's picture with Elladee, which was widely circulated among his teammates shortly after the child's birth.
"I'm proud of Matt and Ashley, and I know they'll raise her to be a good little girl," Joiner said. "But I never thought I'd see the day that Matt could look that angelic... Never -- but I can see he's already in trouble -- days old and she's already got him worked."
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