AUDIO/FEATURE: Tifft Makes Quiet Statement With Top 10 Finish in XFINITY Debut at Kentucky

Jacob Seelman Audio, Featured, MidSouth, NASCAR 0 Comments

SPARTA, Ky. — Story by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman — Audio by Associate Editor Kyle Magda — Russell LaBounty/NKP via Matt Tifft Racing photo —

You wouldn’t have known it by the lack of post-race fanfare, but Hinckley, Ohio young gun Matt Tifft made a solid impression during his NASCAR XFINITY Series debut Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway.

After running as high as second during the 300, Tifft survived a mid-pack shuffle during the first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish to come home 10th in the No. 20 UNC-Charlotte Toyota — a banner result for the 19-year-old against some of the toughest competition at the NASCAR national series level.

While one might calling running as high as second anything but “quiet,” the eventual finish was key for Tifft’s aspirations to advance to more regular XFINITY competition in the future.

He circled restarts as the key point in his night, and said that he simply “got shuffled” following a pair of cautions at laps 181 and 189 that collected frontrunners Brian Scott, J.J. Yeley and Ross Chastain, among others.

Tifft's calm focus propelled him from a 14th-place qualifying effort to the runner-up spot at one point during Saturday night's race. (Jennifer Coleman/NKP via JGR photo)

Tifft’s calm focus propelled him from a 14th-place qualifying effort to the runner-up spot at one point during Saturday night’s race. (Jennifer Coleman/NKP via JGR photo)

“I wish we could have stayed up there on those last couple of restarts,” Tifft explained. “Just got jumbled up a little bit, and after I got really loose getting into turn one I was just trying to hold onto it and make sure I finished the race. My Joe Gibbs Racing crew did a really solid job though, and it was really cool to put my school up front in UNC-Charlotte. This was a great experience for me.”

For the rising talent who has excelled in everything from late models and ARCA cars to select starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this season, the opportunity to even restart on the front row of an XFINITY race — in his first-ever attempt, no less — was an experience Tifft said will stick with him going forward, even if his emotions were a little high prior to the drop of the green flag.

“I can’t say I wasn’t nervous,” Tifft laughed. “It was cool though. This was definitely a great night for us.”

With only four scheduled events remaining on his 2015 calendar — three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races for Kyle Busch Motorsports and the ARCA Racng Series finale at Kansas for Ken Schrader Racing — Tifft added that he will take a lot away from his XFINITY debut as he wraps up 2015 and starts to look ahead towards the 2016 season.

“The biggest thing that I’ll carry from this is [what it feels like to be] running up front with those guys (the series regulars) and how good the quality of the field was. They schooled me on restarts a little bit, but I know I’ve just got to step it up a little bit and take it up to that next level when I have another opportunity to.”

And while Tifft couldn’t say exactly when that next (XFINITY) opportunity would come, he did emphatically that the cars were “awesome” compared to everything else he’s driven in his young career.

“I love them,” Tifft said with a big grin. “They’re just so fun to drive. They’re a lot more momentum-based and not quite as aero-dependent as the Trucks. I think that makes them their own breed of cool, to be quite honest.”

Tifft adds the top 10 finish to a growing resume that includes nine NCWTS starts, eight ARCA Racing Series starts and a NASCAR K&N Pro Series West start at Sonoma Raceway this season. He boasts a best finish of eighth (twice, at Charlotte and Pocono) in the Truck and second (Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville) in the ARCA car this season.

The 19-year-old business major at UNCC will return to the race track Saturday for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Rhino Linings 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, behind the wheel of the No. 51 NASCAR Slots Games Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

Keep up with Tifft’s racing endeavors by subscribing to his Facebook page, following him on Twitter and Instagram @Matt_Tifft, or visiting his website at


Listen in as Race Chaser Online caught up with Tifft following Saturday’s NASCAR XFINITY Series stop at Kentucky Speedway:


About the Writer

Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network. Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.

The 21-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for both the United Sprint Car Series and the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.

Email Jacob at:

Follow on Twitter: @Speed77Radio or @JacobSeelman77

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