Matt Crafton to sub for new dad Paul Menard in Friday’s Cup practice, qualifying

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Three days after the birth of his and wife Jennifer’s first child, Remi Barbara Christine Menard, Paul Menard will miss Friday’s Sprint Cup practice and qualifying at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

Menard, shown in the accompanying  photo that he tweeted out after his daughter’s birth, will remain in North Carolina to be with his wife and child and then fly to California

According to SportingNews.com, reigning Camping World Trucks Series driver Matt Crafton, who had been on standby for Menard the last few races, will drive the No. 27 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet during Friday’s on-track activities.

The team also tweeted that on Menard’s Twitter account Friday.

Menard, who is 17th in the Sprint Cup standings entering this weekend, is expected to be at the track for Saturday’s practice sessions and Sunday’s 400-mile race.

No matter where Crafton qualifies Friday, Menard will still have to start at the back of Sunday’s 43-car race field, per NASCAR rules.

The sanctioning body has revised rules this season that for a driver to qualify for the Chase for the Sprint Cup, he/she must either qualify or race for every one of the first 26 regular season races.

Even though he’ll miss qualifying, Menard will still be Chase-eligible, provided he competes in all of the first 26 races.

NASCAR does not grant injury waivers to drivers for the birth of a child.

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Daniel Ricciardo would relish being Lewis Hamilton’s teammate

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BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) — Daniel Ricciardo says he would relish the challenge of having Lewis Hamilton as his teammate if he joins Mercedes next year.

Ricciardo is out of contract at Red Bull at the end of the season and expressed interest in joining teams like Mercedes or Ferrari to help him challenge for the championship.

The Australian says he would “love to obviously be challenged against the best and Lewis is obviously up there.”

He adds: “I don’t want to say it’s just Lewis I’m looking for but that would be a good challenge.”

Ricciardo says he won’t accept a faster car if it means playing second fiddle to an established star.

He says “there’s always been really good clarity and fairness (at Red Bull) … and I would expect that environment everywhere.”