Photo: Stephen A. Arce/ASP, Inc.

Tifft Addresses Martinsville Health Scare, Gives Outlook on Recovery

By David Morgan, Associate Editor

FORT WORTH, Texas – Standing five feet from the spot in his team’s transporter where he suffered a seizure at Martinsville, Matt Tifft stepped out into the cold Sunday morning at Texas Motor Speedway and addressed his future going forward for the rest of the year and into the seasons ahead.

A week removed from the health scare that landed him in a Martinsville hospital and sidelined him for the rest of the 2019 campaign, Tifft expounded on the details of the incident and his mindset returning to the track this weekend to support his No. 36 Front Row Motorsports team.

“It has been an interesting week for sure. It honestly has been a little crazy with everything that happened so fast. I have my man Keller back here,” Tifft said, pointing to one of his crew members that came to his aid when he went down. “He was honestly my first responder during the whole thing. It is crazy. You never know what is going to happen in life, I guess.

“I was just talking about simulation stuff and the next thing I know I am on the ground and woke up in the Martinsville hospital and that is the next thing I remember. I am glad to be back here at the track and honestly, I wanted to come back today just because it has been very stressful and a lot of anxiety just to come back. I had my seizure five feet behind me here. It is a lot of facing some demons with that and trying to get back. Really, just looking for answers now.

“The great thing has been that the brain scans have been really good. My brain tumor looked great, or the spot that it was in. Everything there looked really good so the next step is getting an EEG where they hook up the probes to your head and figure out what is going on with the brain waves and see if that is it. If that is not it, then we go down the next chain of command to see what could have sparked it. I am glad to see all you guys here and to be back at the racetrack in full health.

“Honestly, that was at 8:15. I remember seeing the time before I went down. I had parked my truck 15 or 20 minutes before that. I was extremely fortunate that I was in the infield and not driving the car or anything that happened leading up that morning. It is crazy, but I feel fortunate to be here in good health and talking to you guys. I don’t know if I would have expected that fully after last Saturday.”

While Tifft will be out of the race car for the foreseeable future and is focused solely on his health and getting back to 100%, the 23-year old Hinckley, Ohio native added that his end goal is to be back behind the wheel, whenever that may be.

“My goal right now is to find what caused it,” Tifft said. “I want to be back in a race car but I don’t care about anything else right now other than finding out what caused this. Until then, nothing else matters.

“I have been through this stuff before and I know enough to be mature and smart enough to know that my health comes first. My goal is to get back in this race car and I want to be back as soon as I possibly can but these next few weeks are going to be dedicated to finding answers with doctors to why this happened.

“It is crazy but the racing part is going to come back and I will get back in a car one way or another, I do honestly believe that. But I have to get my stuff figured out and see what sparked this to happen.”

While Tifft is on the mend, John Hunter Nemechek will take over driving duties, piloting Tifft’s Ford Mustang this weekend at Texas and finishing out the year at Phoenix and Homestead. As far as next season is concerned, a Front Row Motorsports representative stated that Tifft will have a place at the team as long as he wants one.

“Matt came to us under a two-year agreement and we will be honoring that,” said Jeff Dennison, Sr. Director of Sales and Marketing for Front Row Motorsports. “We will still have Matt be here next year. That is our plan. Right now the plan is for Matt to drive for Front Row Motorsports until Matt tells us anything else, but right now we are committed to having Matt back in the car.”

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.