NASCAR Cup Series

Matt Tifft To Miss Remainder of 2019 Cup Series Season

After experiencing a seizure this past weekend at Martinsville Speedway, Matt Tifft will miss the last three races on the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule.

Prior to the first round of practice for the First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway, Tifft experienced a seizure and blacked out, resulting in being transported to local hospital. He has since been working with doctors to determine the exact cause for the incident.

Matt Crafton filled in for Tifft behind the wheel of the No. 36 Ford Mustang at Martinsville Speedway, finishing 25th. 

Front Row Motorsports announced on Tuesday that John Hunter Nemechek will run theh remainder of the schedule.

“We want to thank John Hunter for filling in Matt’s seat as he continues to recover,” said Jerry Freeze, General Manager, Front Row Motorsports. “Our thoughts are still with Matt and his family. We feel that John Hunter can step up and do a great job for us as Matt heals.”

Nemechek will make his Cup Series debut at Texas Motor Speedway following 48 starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with one win, 10 top-five’s and 27 top-10’s to his credit; he currently ranks 11th in the series standings.

“This isn’t the way any driver wants to make their Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut,” said Nemechek. “I am hoping that Matt feels better and can get back in his car as soon as possible. That is what is important. Hopefully I can learn a lot and make Matt, the Front Row Motorsports team and its partners proud.”

This is not the first health scare for Tifft as he had surgery to remove a low-grade glioma in the brain in June 2016. He returned back behind the wheel three months later, making his Cup Series debut in the 2019 Daytona 500. He scored a season-best ninth-place finish at Daytona International Speedway in July.

Since the incident, Tifft has been a strong advocate for brain surgery awareness.

“I think it’s really incredible for how far I’ve come from that,” he told POPULAR SPEED in December 2018. “Even looking back on the 2017 season, there’s a lot of growth in there and it really took me until about halfway through that season to get back to feeling myself again off the track and that started to help me get better on the track again. There’s just a lot of changes and a lot of good things that has gone on since then.

“I love the advocacy work that I’ve been able to do. I’ve gone to Capital Hill and talk to congressmen and congresswoman about policy changes, and more funding for brain tumor awareness and research, so that’s been really rewarding. Being given a clean bill of health has been amazing and I’ve been very fortunate to have that, and being able to continue on my career which is something that I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to do again.

“Like I said before, doctors told me that I wouldn’t be able to drive a racecar again. So to be able to have the opportunity to go into the Cup Series and race in the Daytona 500, I don’t think I would’ve believed that in 2016 if you told me that was going to happen in 2019. Just very thankful for that and I know now and I’ve taken my health more seriously. I feel that’s helped me a lot not only on the racing side, but just the general health side. I feel that carries over to brain health and everything. It’s been a journey transitioning and trying to put the pieces together ever since then and the recovery process.”



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By Ashley McCubbin

Currently the Executive Editor for Popular Speed, Ashley McCubbin also runs Short Track Musings, while handling media relations for OSCAAR. Currently living in Bradford, Ontario, she spends her weekend at the local short tracks in the area taking photos.