FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) Matt Tifft has gone from uncertainty about his NASCAR future this summer while recovering from surgery for a brain tumor to a full-time ride next season in the Xfinity Series.
Joe Gibbs Racing said Friday that the 20-year-old Tifft, who is finishing partial Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series schedules this season, will drive for the team in all 33 Xfinity races in 2017.
''It's an incredible opportunity,'' he said. ''The crazy thing is I remember a couple months ago just coming to Bristol to do the press conference about trying to get back in a car.''
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On Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway, Tifft will make his third Xfinity start since his return from surgery.
When Tifft was being evaluated for some back pain in June, doctors discovered a low-grade tumor in his brain. He had surgery in July to remove the benign tumor from near his right temple.
Tifft said a routine checkup and MRI last week went well, and that he is constantly doing different activities and games to keep his brain active.
After returning to competition in a truck race outside Chicago in September, he finished fifth in an Xfinity race a week later at Kentucky.
The experience made Tifft realize how much he loves what he does, and has wanted to do since he was 5 years old.
''I remember sitting at home in July thinking, `I have no idea, you know, what my future entails for me.' I didn't know. I didn't know if I could drive a street car,'' he said. ''I didn't know if I was going to drive a race car this year, next year, whenever. I just definitely kept the faith in myself that I could get back to that point.''
JGR said Matt Beckman will serve as Tifft's crew chief. The team said primary sponsorship and a car number would be announced at a later date.