By Toby Christie, NASCAR Editor
FORT WORTH, Texas — Matt Tifft, who ran a part-time schedule in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series in 2016, has been announced as a full-time driver for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Xfinity Series for the 2017 season.
Tifft is a talented young driver, and he became a headline this season for something other than his driving abilities as he had to miss three months after a benign tumor was discovered in his brain while he was being evaluated for pain in his back in June. Once Tifft returned to the track he began to showcase his skills. He recorded top-10 finishes in both Xfinity Series starts he had post-surgery.
His stout performance after his medical scare has earned Tifft a shot at full-time competition.
“It has been an incredible year and I am honored to have the opportunity to continue working with Joe Gibbs Racing in the 2017 season,” said Tifft in the team release. “I’ve always wanted the chance to contend for a championship with the Chase for the Championship program, I am thrilled to be with JGR and know they will be instrumental in my career. Through my health challenges this year and while I have continued to learn and improve my driving skills, Coach Gibbs, the staff, and veteran drivers here have mentored me and I look forward to the opportunity to be around them now for a full season.”
Current team engineer for the No. 11 Sprint Cup Series team, Matt Beckman will be Tifft’s crew chief next season, and he is excited to be working with the driver who came from the NASCAR NEXT program.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for me and I’m excited to work with Matt (Tifft),” said Beckman. “Joe Gibbs Racing has had incredible success for many years now in the XFINITY Series and I know the organization takes immense pride in those accomplishments. You don’t have to look any further than JGR’s Cup Series crew chief lineup to realize the tradition they established at JGR and I’m honored to become a part of it starting next season.”
According to a team press release, a car number and primary sponsorship will be announced at a later date.