Matt Crafton will be back behind a Monster Energy Cup Series car on a substitute role for the second time in 2019. After Matt Tifft began experiencing health trouble at Martinsville Speedway on Saturday morning, the fellow Ford driver has been called upon to take over his #36 Front Row Motorsports Ford Mustang for qualifying and Sunday’s First Data 500.
“This morning, Matt Tifft was transported to a local hospital in Martinsville, Virginia for further evaluation and tests after suffering a medical condition at the track,” an FRM statement read. “Tifft was evaluated and released from the hospital and is returning home.”
Crafton, currently fighting for his third NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series title, replaced Paul Menard during the 1000Bulbs.com 500 at Talladega Superspeedway while Menard was dealing with neck pain. Driving the #21 Wood Brothers Racing Mustang in Stages #2 and 3, he was involved in a late wreck but finished fourteenth.
In the 2019 Truck season so far, Crafton has sixteen top-ten finishes, three poles, and a best run of second at Texas Motor Speedway. He is currently fourth in the standings.
The First Data 500 will be Crafton’s first full Cup race since the 2015 Daytona 500, when he replaced an injured Kyle Busch in the #18 Joe Gibbs Racing car. Even before his lone premier series start, he has also practiced and qualified Cup cars for drivers like Menard, Martin Truex Jr., and Robby Gordon while they had other matters to attend to.
In thirty-five career Truck starts at Martinsville, he has two wins (2014 and 2015), nine top fives, twenty top tens, and a pole.