Hinckley native and NASCAR driver returns to track after brain tumor

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Matt Tifft, driver of the #11 Brain Gear/Surface Sunscreen Toyota, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 18, 2016 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Matt Tifft, driver of the #11 Brain Gear/Surface Sunscreen Toyota, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 18, 2016 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

HINCKLEY, Ohio– When it comes to life in the fast lane, nobody knows it better than 20-year-old Matt Tifft.

“I’ve been used to it for a while, but it is definitely pretty cool,” Tifft said.

The Hinckley native is racing in the NASCAR XFinity Series for Joe Gibbs Racing.

“It’s always been a dream of Matthew’s since he was a small child at the age of 2,” said Matt’s mom, Vicki.

Last summer, while racing in Iowa, Matt was sidelined with a back injury, but it turns out that was the least of his worries.

“I had the back issues, but I wanted to talk to him (doctor) about some discomfort I was having in my head as well. Some strange things going on,” Matt said.

Matt had an MRI and doctors discovered he had a benign brain tumor.  In July, he underwent surgery in Charlotte to have it removed.

“It was a very tough day, long hours,” said Vicki. “Waiting and waiting in the waiting room to see what would happen.”

(Photo courtesy: Matt Tifft)
(Photo courtesy: Matt Tifft)

Eleven weeks later, he was back on the track behind the wheel. He had a top-five finish in that race.

“It’s a tough deal because everything you have done for months, you’ve been told you can’t do anything more than a brisk walk because it will do something to your head. You can’t drive a street car for a month,” Matt said.

In November, Matt earned a full-time ride with Joe Gibbs Racing in the NASCAR XFinity Series.

“It’s a huge opportunity for me and it’s my first full-time season I’ve ever had so getting to go after the championship, putting ourselves in that position throughout the years, it’s going to be fun and it’s going to be challenging and definitely exciting,” he said.

Matt will use his personal experience to help promote Brain Tumor Awareness throughout the sport of NASCAR.  He has a scan every eight weeks to make sure his tumor has not returned.  His latest scan was Tuesday and he received a clean bill of health.

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