MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Matt Tifft was transported to a local hospital before Saturday’s opening Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice at Martinsville Speedway, according to a NASCAR spokesman. Front Row Motorsports indicated that Matt Crafton will substitute for Tifft in the No. 36 Ford in Sunday’s First Data 500 (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Front Row Motorsports issued a statement Saturday afternoon that Tifft had been released from a Martinsville-area hospital to recover from home. The 23-year-old driver had undergone tests and treatment, the team said, adding that “further updates will be sent when appropriate.”
Team statement: pic.twitter.com/CeV3STsmus
— Front Row Motorsports (@Team_FRM) October 26, 2019
Tifft is in his first season in the Monster Energy Series and has one top-10 finish in 32 races this season, that coming in the July race at Daytona International Speedway.
Crafton, a two-time Gander Trucks champion, claimed the 31st spot in both practices in Tifft’s place. Crafton was already at the track and was set to drive the ThorSport Racing No. 88 truck later in the day, when Front Row competition director Donnie Wingo called him up.
“I’ll do all I can do to help them out in any way I possibly can,” Crafton said. “I hate it for Matt and every one of these guys. I was literally just getting around this morning and I got a phone call. I didn’t know if it was one of the telemarketers. I was like, ‘do I even answer this?’ I answered and it was Wingo asking, ‘can you come practice our car here in like 30, 45 minutes?’ I’m like, ‘uh, yeah sure!'”
Crafton recently subbed in the Monster Energy Series two weeks ago at Talladega Superspeedway for Paul Menard, who was suffering from neck pain. Crafton drove the Wood Brothers No. 21 Ford in practice at Talladega and relieved Menard after the first stage of that event.
Crafton’s only Monster Energy Series start came as an 11th-hour substitute for the injured Kyle Busch in the 2015 Daytona 500.