Matt Tifft, who suffered a season-ending medical episode last weekend ahead of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway, spoke to the media for the first time Sunday morning (Nov. 3) at Texas Motor Speedway.
“It has been an interesting week for sure,” Tifft said. “It honestly has been a little crazy with everything that happened so fast.”
Tifft posted an update on Twitter last week, revealing he suffered a seizure.
Wanted to share an update with you all. Thank you for the support. pic.twitter.com/kOyQXTTwQn
— Matt Tifft (@matt_tifft) October 29, 2019
“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.”
“It is a lot of facing some demons with that and trying to get back. Really, just looking for answers now,” he explained. “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.”
Tifft suffered the seizure early Saturday (Oct. 26) morning last weekend and was sidelined for the remainder of the year.
“Honestly, that was at 8:15 (a.m.). I remember seeing the time before I went down,” he explained. “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.”
For the driver of the No. 36 Ford, his ultimate goal is to get back to racing, though he doesn’t have any kind of a timetable of when that may happen just yet. In fact, Tifft referenced that most states require a driver of a passenger vehicle to be seizure-free for six months before they can get back behind the wheel, though he doesn’t know what the parameters for returning to NASCAR will be.
“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,” he explained. “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.”
For the team’s part, it remains committed to Tifft moving forward.
“Matt came to us under a two-year agreement and we will be honoring that,” Jeff Dennison, senior director of sales and marketing for Front Row Motorsports said. “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.”
In Tifft’s place, John Hunter Nemechek will pilot the No. 36 Ford for the remainder of the season.
“I am really thankful for the opportunity from Bob (Jenkins) and everyone at Front Row Motorsports,” Nemechek said Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway. “I hate that the circumstances are like this. I really wish Matt Tifft a speedy recovery and hope he is back at the race track very soon.”
Nemechek will make his Cup Series debut Sunday afternoon when he starts 29th in the AAA Texas 500.