Photo: Harold Hinson Photography

Matt Tifft Column: A Fresh Start in 2018

By Matt Tifft, Driver Columnist

Editor’s note: Matt Tifft, driver of the No. 2 Chevrolet Camaro for Richard Childress Racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, shares his 2018 campaign with Motorsports Tribune as he aims for a shot at the championship. 

It’s been a busy offseason and start to 2018 for me with the move to Richard Childress Racing, but it has been a time I’ve enjoyed too.

A lot of time and effort went into preparing for this season for me to take over the No. 2 Chevrolet Camaro. My team and I had to get to know each other and sort out our goals for the year, while also doing a bunch of prep work like getting my seat fitted and pedals adjusted. On top of that, they were also switching over the car bodies to the composite bodies that are new for this season.That brought a lot of time and effort with it.

I also spent a lot of time in the offseason getting to know everyone I could outside of competition as well, from the business development team to marketing and communications, to licensing. They all have a part in helping me succeed this year and the offseason was my chance to meet everyone before the season kicked off and our weeks got a little hectic. It was a lot of work, but I truly enjoyed every part of it. It was probably one of the most fun offseasons I’ve had!

I was very excited to finally get to Daytona a couple of weeks ago. It’s one thing to get everything set and rolling, but it’s another to actually get to the racetrack and get to work. That’s when the performance part comes into play, and with RCR’s history at the track I felt like we had a great shot to perform well.

The weekend went alright for our first race together. Our No. 2 Nexteer Automotive Chevrolet Camaro came home in one piece and in the top-20, which is always an accomplishment at the restrictor-plate tracks. We had a couple miscues that come along with any new race team and had a couple items to work on before heading to Atlanta, like brightening up my pit sign to help me find my box on pit road, but it was a good start to working together as a team this year.

This past weekend in Atlanta felt like more of a normal race weekend. We worked hard on the car throughout the two practice sessions on Friday and ended the day sixth on the speed charts.  Once the race started on Saturday, we really had to work hard on the balance of No. 2 Surface Sunscreen Chevrolet Camaro. We still had great long run speed, which we had predicted the day before, but I was lacking the speed needed at the start of the runs to keep up and pass other cars out on the track. We kept after it all day long and our drivability did improve a little bit. We finished 12th, just missing out on a top-10 finish.

It wasn’t a perfect race out at Atlanta, but I feel we have a solid foundation for our intermediate track program to work on throughout the year. I feel really good about the chemistry of the No. 2 team for this season. It is a great group of guys led by my crew chief, Randall Burnett. I’m looking forward to heading out west for the next couple of weeks and building on what we’ve already learned together.

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