Matt Tifft to make Kyle Busch Motorsports debut in Charlotte Truck series race

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Friday will be a big day for driver Matt Tifft.

It won’t mark the 18-year-old’s debut in the Camping World Truck Series, that came last year at Martinsville Speedway.

The Hinckley, Ohio native will make his first appearance racing for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Tifft will climb into the No. 51 ToyotaCare Tundra for the first time since signing a six-race contract five months ago.

“It’s like having to wait to cash a winning lottery ticket or a kid that got a present for Christmas and hasn’t been able to open it until now,” Tifft said in a release. “I’ve been anticipating this weekend and trying to get some track time before this time came — now it’s here, so I have to go out and perform.”

A business student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Tifft raced in three of the four Truck series events to date in 2015 for Venturini Motorsports. His best finish so far is ninth at Martinsville Speedway, where he has raced twice.

Tifft’s other four Truck races were at Phoenix International Raceway, Daytona International Speedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway and last Friday at Kansas Speedway.

“I think the most important things are to go out there an impress people, work well with Kyle and try to get some wins,” Tifft said of his six-race schedule. “That’s why we are here and what this organization is built on.”

Tifft isn’t a complete stranger to the 1.5-mile track in Charlotte. In February, a month after signing his deal with KBM, he participated in a rookie test with the team, running around the track for 30 laps under the supervision of crew chief Jerry Baxter.

“Any time that you can go to a track and you’ve already had a chance to get comfortable there ahead of time, that’s definitely beneficial,” Tifft said. “I know what we did at the test and I can try to get even faster from there — being able to go out and work on race runs and work on how our truck handles around other trucks with the aero packages and see how that responds, instead of me having to learn all the different aspects of Charlotte.”

Baxter will once again be the voice on the other end of Tifft’s radio this weekend at Charlotte.

“It was good for him to be able to test since he doesn’t have a lot of experience on mile-and-a-half tracks and it was good for us as a team to get to know him a little bit and work on our communication,” Baxter said. “We’ll also have a couple hours of extra practice time on Thursday, which will be a good thing for us since it’s his first race and we are bringing a brand new Tundra. That will give us an extra set of tires and give Matt extra laps to get a feel for our trucks compared to what he’s been driving for the other teams and extra time to get acquainted with the track.”

NASCAR America: Navigating Sonoma means plenty of twists and turns

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You turn left and turn right, what’s the big deal, right?

Actually, wrong.

Sonoma Raceway is an extremely technical racetrack full of winding turns both to the left and right.

On Thursday’s NASCAR America, Parker Kligerman took to the iRacing Simulator to show what drivers might expect on the nearly two-mile roadcourse north of San Francisco this weekend.

NASCAR America: Which NASCAR driver is ready for zombie apocalypse?

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Now there’s something you don’t hear NASCAR drivers talk about every day: how to prepare — and potentially survive — a zombie apocalypse.

Our intrepid reporter, Rutledge Wood, threw a number of NASCAR drivers for a loop when he asked them that very question.

The reactions range from incredulousness to seriousness.  Among those Rut talked with included Martin Truex Jr., Elliott Sadler, Matt Kenseth, Ryan Blaney, Clint Bowyer, Erik Jones and Kyle Larson.

And here’s a few surprises:

  • Brad Keselowski wants to buy a tank for the apocalypse, and supposedly Dale Earnhardt Jr. is waiting to take delivery on his own tank — both to kill zombies, of course!
  • Several drivers also talked about one of their former own who reportedly has already made big plans to take on any zombies that come across his path. As Wood said, that former driver’s name rhymes with Schmarl Schmedwards.

Check out the hysterical video — trust us, it WILL make you laugh — if for nothing else the outlandish responses from some of the drivers.

But it also makes one wonder: what if a zombie is among us and he’s disguised as a zombie? What then — and who might it be?

NASCAR America: John Hunter Nemechek looks to overcome small team, funding

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The good news for John Hunter Nemechek was with his win last weekend at Gateway, he and Nemco Motorports qualified for this season’s Camping World Truck Series playoffs.

But there is potential bad news, as well: because of having one of the smallest teams in the truck series and limited funding, Nemechek and his team are going to need more financial help, lest they potentially can’t afford to race for the championship in the playoffs.

Nemechek talked about that with NASCAR America on Thursday’s show. See the above video.

NASCAR America: Papis teaching next generation of NASCAR champions

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Even though much of his racing career was spent in open-wheel competition, it may surprise some to know Como, Italy native Max Papis has a combined 95 career starts in NASCAR across its three racing series: Cup, Xfinity and Trucks.

Papis’ versatility has proven invaluable in mentoring a number of young drivers with the potential of some day becoming NASCAR champions, including current student William Byron.

Papis spent Thursday on NASCAR America talking about what makes a good young driver and how he enjoys his role as a mentor and teacher.