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.
Heading into this weekend at Kentucky Speedway, I was really looking to capitalize on my past experience at the 1.5-mile track. Kentucky was the site of my debut in the NASCAR Xfinity series, in which I finished 10th in 2015. It’s also the second track I raced at after making my recovery post-brain tumor surgery – I finished fifth!
We finished 11th this weekend, which isn’t what we were hoping for with as fast of a car as we had, as a slight miscue on pit road sent us backwards with track position with too little time to make it up. Despite that, I think we learned a lot these past couple of weeks that are starting to translate into stronger weekends as a team.
So far this season we’ve earned one top-five and seven top-10 finishes. Last season, a majority of my top-10 finishes came during the last half of the year so we should be on-track to better that number this season.
It has been a solid start to the year, but we need to start looking at what we need to do as a team to take that next step, run consistently in the top-five and contending for the win at some of these upcoming races. Our Chevrolet Camaros have had speed all year long, we just need to capitalize on it more before we get into the full swing of the Playoffs.
The next month or so of races feature some of my strong suits – road courses and short tracks. Last year, I finished third in two of the three road courses we have in August, so I’m really optimistic about our chances there. Especially when you look at how well RCR has run at those places in the past. I’ll be running in the Trans-Am races again at Mid-Ohio and Bristol, something I feel helped me learn those two tracks a lot last year. It really slowed the track down for me in the Xfinity cars, which allowed me to back my corners up more and get around people.
Mixed in with the road courses is Bristol, a track I’m looking for some redemption at this year. We had a great No. 2 Chevrolet Camaro for the spring race but got taken out of the race early after contact with the No. 7 car in Stage 1. I feel like we could have gotten a top 10 out of that day and will be looking to prove that this time around.
Overall, I think there are definitely some areas to improve on for the second half of the season. My team has done a great job during the first half and laid some good groundwork for us to continue to improve on, and I’m ready to get started on it.