By AMANDA VINCENT
NASCAR Xfinity and Camping World Truck series driver Matt Tifft was at Bristol (Ten.) Motor Speedway on Friday to discuss his recent brain surgery and his journey back to NASCAR competition. Tifft, who had an Xfinity Series deal with Joe Gibbs Racing and a Truck Series deal with Red Horse Racing, had to put competition on hold when he underwent surgery to remove a non-cancerous tumor from his brain on July 1.
“I was diagnosed with a low-grade — grade two — Diffuse Astrocytoma, or a Glioma, which is something that hadn’t taken on a cancerous form or a dangerous form, yet, but in the future, it very well could have,” Tifft said. “On July 1, I had a craniotomy. I have this nice scar over here, now. It was a successful surgery; they got as much as they could out, and with these things, they best describe it as a wet cotton ball, like in a cup of water, basically. They can pull out as much as they can, but there’s always going to be a couple strands left in there.”
Tifft plans to make a few laps around Hickory Motor Speedway in a Late Model on Sunday.
“Actually, this weekend — no Sunday — at Hickory, I’m going to get in a Late Model and start to get back in the seat,” Tifft said. “I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to that. Obviously, it’s been a couple months since I’ve been in a car, and in that time, I just really want to thank everybody from Joe Gibbs Racing and Red Horse Racing for working with me.”
Tifft is looking forward to a return to competition, but he isn’t sure exactly when he’ll get to race again or what the next step of his rehabilitation, beyond his Late Model test Sunday, will hold.
“I think first thing’s first — just going to do the test on Sunday and see how everything goes,” Tifft said. “The most curious thing to me is just seeing what my level of stamina is compared to the past, because it’s been so long since I’ve been in a car. I don’t know what the exact steps are going to be, but I think the biggest thing is just to get back going and get back re-oriented in a race car.”
Prior to his surgery, Tifft made six starts in the Xfinity Series in 2016, resulting in two top-10 finishes. In the Camping World Truck Series, Tifft ran three races earlier this year, posting a top-five finish.
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