Up-and-coming young driver John Hunter Nemechek has been tabbed to drive the No. 36 Front Row Motorsports Ford for the remainder of the season while the car’s fulltime driver Matt Tifft is out of the car. Tifft required medical attention at the Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and was transported to a local hospital last Saturday afternoon and did not compete in Sunday’s race.
According to the team’s press release, Tifft will be undergoing further evaluation under the care of his medical team and Front Row Motorsports said it hopes the 23-year old Ohio native will return to the driver’s seat upon medical clearance.
“Our thoughts are still with Matt and his family,’’ Front Row Motorsports General Manager Jerry Freeze said Tuesday. “We feel that John Hunter can step up and do a great job for us as Matt heals.’’
Tifft earned his first Cup series top-10 finish – a ninth place – at Daytona International Speedway this summer and had four top-20 finishes, most recently a 13th place showing at Talladega Superspeedway. He finished top-10 in the Xfinity Series championship in 2017 and 2018 with a career-best showing of runner-up at Road America in 2018.
Nemechek, the 22-year-old son of four-time Cup race winner Joe Nemechek, will make his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut this weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. Currently an Xfinity Series rookie, he is ranked ninth in that series’ standings with four top-five and 16 top-10 finishes. He won a Xfinity race at Kansas in 2017 while driving part-time in the series and is a six-race winner in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series.
“This isn’t the way any driver wants to make their Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut,’’ Nemechek said. “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.’’