JGR Confirms 2016 No. 18 XFINITY Series Schedule for Rookie Driver
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. (February 5, 2016) – “Names are Made Here” in the NASCAR XFINITY Series and young Ohio-native Matt Tifft will be doing just that in 2016 with a 13-race schedule behind the wheel of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota Camry.
The 19-year old driver has 16-career starts in NASCAR’s top-three racing series over the last two seasons, while running a limited schedule in both the XFINITY Series and in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. In these early stages of his career Tifft has successfully earned six top-10 finishes in the Camping World Tuck Series and a top-10 result from 2015 in the XFINITY Series. Additionally Tifft has raced competitively in NASCAR’s K&N Pro West, K&N Pro East and ARCA Series, as well as the X-1R Pro Cup Series.
In 2015 Tifft made his first career XFNITY Series start and first entry with Joe Gibbs Racing at Kentucky Speedway in September. In what he described as a big learning experience, Tifft started from a 16th-place qualifying effort and made steady gains through the race, to bring home his first series finish in 10th place.
Tifft’s 2016 XFINITY Series schedule will kick off at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway on April 23 and continues for a total of 13 scheduled races including: Dover International Speedway (May 14), Iowa Speedway (June 19), Daytona International Speedway (July 1), New Hampshire International Speedway (July 16), Iowa Speedway (July 30), Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (August 13), Bristol Motor Speedway (August 19), Road America (August 27), Kentucky Speedway (September 24), Charlotte Motor Speedway (October 7), Texas Motor Speedway (November 5) and Homestead-Miami Speedway (November 19).
“I am honored to have the opportunity to work with Joe Gibbs Racing for the 2016 season. I feel after our run last year at Kentucky that this is a great fit for me with an outstanding and well-respected organization, and I look forward to a very exciting and successful year driving the
No. 18 Toyota Camry,” remarked an eager Tifft.
Over the years Joe Gibbs Racing has encouraged young drivers to gain experience with the now 25-year organization, by developing in the learning series of the NASCAR Camping World Truck and NASCAR XFINITY Series. In recent years names such as Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones have proven the JGR program successful. In 2015, Suarez earned NASCAR’s Rookie of the Year honor while finishing fifth in the XFINITY Series’ driver ranking. Jones captured the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship in 2015 and earned two victories while driving a part-time XFINITY Series schedule. Both Suarez and Jones will compete full-time in the XFINITY Series in 2016, affording Tifft the opportunity to continue to learn alongside them.
Executive Vice President of XFINITY Series Operations at Joe Gibbs Racing, Steve DeSouza confirmed further, “We take a lot of pride in using our XFINITY Series program to develop talent. That not only includes our drivers, but crew chiefs and our team personnel as well. It’s great to have Matt expand his program with us in 2016 and have the opportunity to run alongside Erik and Daniel for a good portion of the season. When you add Cody Coughlin to our roster, who will drive part-time in the Truck Series with KBM, we feel fortunate to have so much young talent in our system.”
Tifft further exclaimed, “I am very excited to work again with Daniel Suarez, Erik Jones and Kyle Busch. Last year they helped me a ton with development, and I will continue to try and advance my career by drawing on the experience and talent of those around me. Hopefully I can also help them in some ways as well. I look forward to a very exciting and successful year driving the No. 18 Camry, and can’t wait to get this year started!”
Tifft is also a second-year student at the University of North Carolina, as a business management major.
Primary sponsorship across the 13 designated races with Tifft in the No. 18 continue to be developed and will be announced at a later date.