NASCAR Next driver Matt Tifft will compete in all 33 NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) races in 2017, driving for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Tifft has been running a limited NXS schedule and has nine career starts (six with JGR) since making his debut in 2015. The 20-year-old student of UNC Charlotte has one top five and five top tens to his credit. He also sat on pole for the spring Talladega race.
Earlier this year, he was sidelined with a low-grade tumor that required brain surgery, but has since made an impressive comeback. His lone top five finish came in his first race back at Kentucky Speedway.
“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," he said in a 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."
Matt Beckman will take on the crew chief duties for Tifft in 2017. He has been with the organization since 2007 and presently serves as a race engineer for the No. 11 Sprint Cup team.
JGR fields three Xfinity Series teams with two running for the driver's championship -- the No. 19 of Daniel Suarez and the No. 20 of Erik Jones. However, Jones will be moving up to the Cup ranks in 2017 in a second Furniture Row Racing entry.
“We look forward to continued development with Matt (Tifft) over this next race season,” said Executive Vice President of NXS Operations and Development Steve DeSouza. “He’s shown strength through adversity and a strong willingness to advance his performance level for a long-term career in racing. JGR has enjoyed watching young drivers such as Erik (Jones) and Daniel (Suarez) move through our system and build experience that is yielding them positive results on the racetrack. With the championship caliber NASCAR Sprint Cup Series programs, drivers and personnel to draw from here, these young competitors continue to grow. I know Matt will take full advantage of this continued opportunity.”
Sponsorship details and a car number will be announced at a later date.