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.”