Matt Crafton may be a NASCAR Camping World Truck Champion and the most recent race winner in Texas this past weekend, but his most important role in life to date is that of being dad to daughter Elladee.
“It’s been a dream come true,” Crafton, driver of the No. 88 Menards Toyota for ThorSport Racing, said. “I had never expected it to be as cool as it’s been to be a dad without a doubt.”
Crafton credits Elladee Ann, who is now a little over a year old, to being part of the reason for his recent success, winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship last year and winning two races so far in the 2014 season, at Texas this past weekend and Martinsville in March.
With his Texas win, Crafton also assumed the points lead in the championship standings, moving eleven points ahead of Johnny Sauter, his ThorSport Racing teammate.
“She is my lucky charm without a doubt,” Crafton said. “She came into our lives and has changed it for sure.”
“She’s definitely been my little good luck charm.”
Given that she has brought so much good luck to her daddy, Elladee has not missed a single race yet in her young life. She does, however, hang back with her mother Ashley in Victory Lane until all the Gatorade is sprayed and the confetti has flown.
“She’s been in every Victory Lane and she hasn’t missed a race,” Crafton said. “It is so special to have her at the track and to be able to spend time with the family. To travel with me is the only way I would want it for sure.”
“She loves the camera and she loves people,” Crafton continued. “That’s what is so cool. Before the race, when everyone is around, she is just so happy and energetic to be there. And when she is in Victory Lane, it’s the same thing. When we won at Martinsville, she was in the middle of a nap. They woke her up to bring her to Victory Lane and she was tired but she was still hanging in there.”
Unlike other public figures that sometimes shield their children, Crafton, as do so many parents in the NASCAR garage, thinks it is very important to have Elladee not only with him but with other people to learn life lessons and grow socially.
“I know that some people hide their kids and don’t want them in the spotlight but most race car drivers have them out and about among everybody,” Crafton said. “I think that is going to be very key later in her life to be able to be around people and be able to talk and communicate instead of being sheltered.”
“I was always involved with my dad,” Crafton continued. “He raced and I can remember being at the race track from as long as I can remember. I was too young back then to even go into the pits so I would sit in the stands with my grandparents throughout practice and all that. I can remember sneaking into the pits too.”
“I’ve learned the lesson of just being involved,” Crafton said. “It’s so cool to have her and be able to do the same things with her sitting with me. To have her a part of my life the same way I was with my parents is special.”
Crafton admitted he is an involved dad, however, there are a few things that give him pause about parenthood.
“I had her this morning on my own and of course as soon as mom left, she goes ‘number two’ and I’ve got to change the diaper,” Crafton said. “I do it, but if mom’s here, I definitely try to hand her off as much as I can because I’m not going to lie, I have a weak stomach and some of that is bad.”
While her dad acknowledged that he is open to her pursuing whatever passion, whether racing or not, Elladee has already shown some proclivity toward speed even at her tender young age.
“Putting her on my quad or in my side-by-side is my favorite thing to do,” Crafton said. “That’s what we were doing this morning before my wife showed up. We were driving down the street and did about ten laps down and back.”
“She just loves, loves riding around,” Crafton continued. “It doesn’t matter what she’s in. When she was three months old, I would ride her on the golf cart at the race track and if she was fussy, she would immediately stop.”
“We have ridden for hours on that golf cart to make her happy.”
While Crafton has no specific plans for the upcoming Father’s Day weekend, he knows there is one thing that he absolutely will do and that is to spend that precious time with his daughter.
“Hopefully I’ll get to hang out with family which will be the best thing,” Crafton said. “I haven’t thought much about being a father for Father’s Day. It’s just been too hectic to think about it I guess.”
“I guess when it gets here, it will be a little bit different for sure now that I’m a dad,” Crafton said. “It’s definitely going to be awesome.”