Race Weekend Central

Matt Tifft Set to Return at Daytona

NASCAR XFINITY Series rookie Matt Tifft will be back on the racetrack in early July at Daytona International Speedway, according to Motorsport.com. Tifft, who turns 20 on Sunday, did not compete at Iowa Speedway due to having a procedure to reduce pain for a lower back issue.

Driving for Joe Gibbs Racing, Tifft was scheduled to race at Iowa as one of his 16 contests in the No. 18 car, split between Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Bobby Labonte and he. However, his doctor advised him to have the procedure as soon as possible, giving him multiple weeks to recover prior to Daytona, a race that is known for seeing hard hits.

“He’s had a lower back issue, I think a bulging disc. What Matt wanted to do was run [at Iowa] and go in next week for the procedure and be ready for Daytona, but his doctor thought that might be pushing it,” Steve deSouza, JGR’s executive vice president of XFINITY Series and development, told Motorsport.“He called me Thursday after the procedure this week and said he’d be good to go [for Daytona]. Matt’s next race is at Daytona and then we have some standalone (XFINITY) races, including the road courses. We don’t see any complications from that, so we expect to go forward like it was.”

Replacing Tifft at Iowa was NASCAR veteran Sam Hornish, Jr., who received the call the Tuesday before the race to head to the racetrack. Hornish evidently won the race, his first since his final event with Richard Petty Motorsports at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November.

Tifft has made six XFINITY Series starts this year, with a best finish of eighth at Talladega Superspeedway and Dover International Speedway. At Talladega, he led 21 laps en route to his first top 10 of the year.

In addition to competing in the XFINITY Series, Tifft also runs part-time in the Camping World Truck Series for Red Horse Racing in the team’s No. 11 truck. Through three races with the team, he has a best finish of fifth at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

About the author

Joseph started with Fronstretch in Aug. 2014 and worked his way up to become an editor in less than a year. A native of Whitestone, New York, Joseph writes for NASCAR Pole Position magazine as a weekly contributor, along with being a former intern at Newsday and the Times Beacon Record Newspapers, each on Long Island. With a focus on NASCAR, he runs our social media pages and writes the NASCAR Mailbox column, along with other features for the site.

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