Categories
Trucks

Three Drivers Get Opportunity at Kentucky

Three teams in the Camping World Truck Series have announced driver changes ahead of the Buckle Up in Your Truck 225 at Kentucky this weekend.

Red Horse Racing announced Tuesday Brett Moffitt will drive the No. 11 Toyota Tundra in place of Matt Tifft, who is recovering from surgery to remove a low-grade glioma in the brain. This will be the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year’s third career start in the Truck Series and second in Kentucky.

“Obviously, we’re thinking of Matt and can’t wait for him to return, so we’re sending him our best wishes, and we hope to see him back at the track soon,” Moffitt said. “I hate that it’s under these circumstances, but I’m really grateful for this opportunity with Red Horse Racing, and I hope it can lead to more.”

Secondly, Athenian Motorsports announced on Wednesday Parker Kligerman will fill in for John Wes Townley in the No. 05 Jive Communications Chevrolet as he undergoes treatment for a possible concussion. Kligerman, who also works as a NASCAR analyst for NBC Sports Network, has had eight Truck Series starts this season, three of which were top ten finishes. However, he has not competed in the series since May 13 at Dover.

Lastly, Young’s Motorsports announced Wednesday Austin Hill will drive the No. 02 Young’s Building Systems / Randco Chevrolet Silverado, which is typically driven by Tyler Young. Young has made the decision to forego competing each week himself to give other drivers a chance. Just a couple weeks ago, he put Derek Scott Jr. behind the wheel for Iowa Speedway.

“With us not having a prime opportunity to compete for the championship, we have jumped at the chance to work with others and bring outside knowledge in knowing it has the potential to strengthen our program overall,” said Young. “The ability to work with a talented driver like Austin Hill not only provides a great opportunity to bring fresh insight but also bounce ideas off not only me but my crew chief Andrew Abbott as well. For us, it’s a win-win situation.”

Though all three of the drivers have had at least some experience in the Truck Series, some may say they haven’t had quite the level of success as the people whose shoes they are filling this week. Maybe this opportunity can change all that.

Vivian Meza is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist

EMAIL VIVIAN AT vivian.meza@popularspeed.com

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement. 

Categories
XFINITY

Matt Tifft To Undergo Brain Tumor Surgery

Matt Tifft will be sitting on the sidelines for some races.

Tifft will miss this weekend’s race at Daytona International Speedway, among possible others, as he will go undergo surgery and rehabilitation to remove a low-grade glioma in the brain. Once he is cleared by the doctors, he is expected to make his return to racing.

The NASCAR Next driver was scheduled to run both the XFINITY Series and Camping World Truck Series races at Iowa Speedway, however missed both races due to treatment for a disc condition in his back. During evaluation, doctors found the slow-growing tumor.

Sam Hornish Jr. filled in for Tifft at Iowa Speedway in the XFINITY Series, taking the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Camry to victory lane.

JGR announced David Ragan will drive the No. 18 Surface Sunscreen/Rugged Maniac Toyota Camry on Friday at Daytona International Speedway. In nine XFINTY races at Daytona, Ragan has nine top-10s with a best finish of seventh last season.

Beyond Daytona, the organization has yet to announce any plans.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
XFINITY

Hornish Could Be a Favorite as Substitute Driver at Iowa

Sam Hornish Jr. will drive the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry, in place of Matt Tifft, for Sunday’s NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Iowa Speedway.

Tifft, under recommendation from his doctor, will sit out this weekend in order to treat a disc condition in his back.

The Ohio native has run six of 13 races so far this season in the No. 18 Toyota, the two most recent of which were back-to-back eighth-place finishes.

Hornish Jr. hasn’t been quite as busy.

At the conclusion of 2015, he was released from his Sprint Cup Series driving duties at Richard Petty Motorsports and had accepted early retirement.

“That just, to me, it’s part of my life but it’s not all of my life,” Hornish told the ASSOCIATED PRESS last month, “There’s a lot more things for me to do outside of (racing).”

If Hornish had to pick a track to make a return, Iowa Speedway would likely top the list.

In seven career XFINITY Series visits to the .875-mile track, Hornish had only one start and one finish outside of the top-10 and scored a victory for JGR in May of 2014.

The American Ethanol E15 250 will air at 1:30 PM ET on FS1.

Vivian Meza is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist

EMAIL VIVIAN AT vivian.meza@popularspeed.com

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement. 

Categories
Trucks

So Far, So Good for Matt Tifft at Red Horse Racing

DOVER, Del. – Two races into his tenure with Red Horse Racing Matt Tifft is as satisfied as can he can be.

Tifft finished 12th in the Jacob Companies 200 at Dover International Speedway on Friday night in what was only his second start of the 2016 season. With qualifying rained out, Tifft started third as a result of his strong practice speed from Thursday afternoon. He demonstrated the quickness early on but ended up fading as the race began to hit its stride.

“I don’t know what totally happened. I thought the first half we were really good; we ran in the top five the whole time there, and I just feel like we lost a little bit of speed there,” he said afterward. “I don’t know if we tightened it up too much – we might have just gone the wrong way on adjustments, and that’s not blame on (crew chief) Scott Zipadelli, I think we should have left it a little bit free and that’s part of the learning process here.

“It was a lot better the first half, and we slowed up a little bit too much and in traffic I couldn’t roll up on guys as well as we needed to. Still proud of these guys; they worked really hard the whole weekend. We brought a good truck; I think we just went the wrong way on adjustments.”

Scheduled to run at least 10 races with Red Horse, Tifft has been making the most of the limited opportunities he had between the Camping World Truck and XFINITY Series. Last year, Tifft ran 12 CWTS events between Kyle Busch Motorsports and Venturini Motorsports. He also earned a 10th place finish in his XFINITY debut with Joe Gibbs Racing, who he again is competing for this season.

Tifft will give Dover another try on Saturday afternoon in the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet 200. He’ll drive the No. 1 Oberto Toyota, a seat he shares with 2015 Sprint Cup Series champion, Kyle Busch.

A highly touted prospect, Tifft earned his shot at Red Horse after the team parted way with Ben Kennedy. They’ve now earned two top-15 finishes having started seventh and finished 14th last weekend in Kansas. As the series shifts to Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 20, Tifft is looking to reverse his fortunes.

“It’s been really good (with Red Horse). I think we just need to work on closing these races out,” Tiff said. “We’ve been really good up until the halfway point and we kind of struggle after that. Just need, if anything, to flip-flop the races and we’ll be all right.”

EMAIL KELLY AT kelly.crandall@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @KellyCrandall

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
Development Journalists

Impressive Debut for Matt Tifft

@Matt_Tifft made his NASCAR XFINITY Series debut at the roughest track on the circuit Saturday night. He managed to score a 10th place finish at Kentucky Speedway. This was a very impressive feat for a rookie to score a top-10 on his debut, let alone on this particular track.

Making his first start with Joe Gibbs Racing, the team has had a tremendous amount of success lately in NASCAR.  The driver of the No. 20 UNC Charlotte Toyota found himself running in the top-ten for most of the night.  He moved his way up to second during the race, and he started third on the next to the last restart.

After the race, Tifft took to Twitter and posted the following:

Matt Tifft is a 19-year-old who races part-time for Kyle Busch Motorsports.  In only twelve NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts he has scored five top-ten finishes. In the ARCA series has nine top-five finishes and 13 top-ten in just 20 starts.

When he is not on the track, he is busy hitting the books. Tifft is a full-time student at UNC Charlotte where is majoring in Business Management.

The future looks bright for the young driver who already has an impressive resume.

 

Emily Spink is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist

EMAIL EMILY AT emily.spink@popularspeed.com

Categories
Trucks

Matt Tifft Is Bringing His Shark Tank Mentality to NASCAR

While @Matt_Tifft is getting an opportunity to join Kyle Busch Motorsports for six Truck Series races this year, sharing the No. 51 ride with @dnlsuarez and @KyleBusch, the eighteen year old ‘Shark Tank’ fan is also bringing his own unique business sense to the NASCAR dance.

“We really don’t have a racing family, we have more of a business family,” Tifft said. “My mom went to the Peace Corps in Africa when she was in her early twenties and she only made it nine months because she got malaria three times. She came back and then she wanted to help find a cure. So, she formed her own company and now they do clinical research for the Ebola outbreak. They do a lot of work to find medical vaccines.”

“What is unique is that my parents started their business in what became my bedroom in the house,” Tifft continued. “I watched them grow their business from those two to having government contracts to look for the Ebola vaccine.”

“I’ve seen from Shark Tank people that didn’t take a salary for three or four years just trying to make it starting their own company. I’ve always had that business sense, which is unusual because most of the drivers have an engineering background like Ryan Newman.”

“I like that business stuff and I think I got that business mind from my mom,” Tifft said. “I find different brands and businesses interesting. I’m really into sponsorship negotiations and talks and the business aspect of the sport.”

“There are so many different business models and different departments. Racing is anything from automotive parts to fast food to Game Stop or whatever. So, there are all these different platforms and business strategies that want to be in NASCAR. That’s kind of cool for somebody like me because I understand what their business wants to do. And then when you find that one guy in the company that wants to go racing, that is really cool to connect with them.”

While Tifft is readying to take care of business behind the wheel of the KBM No. 51 Toyota truck, with his first race at Gateway, he is also trying to take care of business including potential sponsorship for his six race run.

“We talked a little bit to a few teams last year,” Tifft said. “We wanted to do a part-time Truck schedule and were trying to find what made sense. I got in contact with KBM and we met and went to the race shop. I made my first Truck start in Martinsville and I finished top-ten. So, we got the green light to go ahead and negotiate for the 2015 season.”

“We’re working on sponsorship right now. Federated Auto Parts has been supportive last year so we are trying to work some stuff out with them. Sponsorship is what we are always trying to do and hopefully, with the name of Kyle Busch Motorsports, we can attract some more interest and funding.”

“The outlook for this year is to do six to eight Truck races. We’re in negotiations right now to do about eight ARCA races, nothing certain yet, but we are hoping to do that with Ken Schrader racing again. I’ll be doing some Modified and asphalt super late models too.”

While Tifft is busy with racing, he is also honing his Shark Tank-like business acumen in school.

“I’m going to UNC Charlotte full-time too in their business school. It’s interesting because I’m a full-time student but I only go to class Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. That way I have Thursday through Sunday for racing purposes.”

“Honestly I’ve been used to it since seventh grade. I went to public school so I’ve been racing and going to school. I think in high school, I missed 150 days over the course of four years. My school was really helpful in dealing with that and I still got really good grades.”

“For me, I’m more focused when I have school and racing going on at the same time because I know I have to get it done. On the plane rides back from the race track, I know that I have to get my homework done.”

While Tifft is bringing his Shark Tank mentality to the track, he is also bringing his passion for the sport along with him as well. And he is learning at the feet of some of the best, including his racing idol @JeffGordonWeb and his racing mentor @KenSchrader.

“Schrader’s been really helpful. He helped with the connections and getting the negotiations started with KBM. He has been a huge part of that. There are so many people that have helped me along the way and the cool thing is that I still have relationships with all those people.”

“There are three people that got me into racing, my dad, Jeff Gordon and the guy my dad raced for. Growing up, every Sunday I would be sitting on the couch watching Jeff Gordon try to win.”

“So, to see him leave the sport after this season is definitely strange. But at the same time, it’s probably good for young drivers like me because there is that changing of the guard.”

With the confidence of youth that even Shark Tank’s ‘Mr. Wonderful’ would applaud, Tifft cannot wait to get into the seat, buckle up and go racing.

“The biggest thing that I have going is obviously being with the most dominant team in the Truck Series. They proved that last year with all their wins. So, just to be a part of that team and trying to prove myself in the Trucks Series with top-notch equipment will be exciting.”

“I can definitely see myself succeeding and it’s the best feeling in the world.”

“My outlook for the season is really optimistic and I’m absolutely confident that this part-time schedule will allow me to showcase my abilities as I work towards securing a full-time opportunity in 2016.”

EMAIL MARY JO AT mj.buchanan@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW MARY JO ON TWITTER: @maryjobuchanan