Matt Tifft Finishes 12th at Chicagoland in Return to Racing
After an absence of nearly three months since competing behind the wheel, Matt Tifft completed an exemplary comeback in the American Ethanol e15 225 at Chicagoland Speedway in the No. 11 BrainGear/Surface Sunscreen Toyota Tundra. Friday night's regular season finale marked the 20-year-old's return to NASCAR competition after being sidelined since June, and he did it in workman-like fashion. Tifft rallied from a lap down to post a 12th-place finish at the conclusion of 151 laps in his second-career start at the 1.5-mile tri-oval. The Hinckley, Ohio native wasted no time getting back up to speed, posting the sixth-fastest lap in opening practice on Friday, and earning the 11th starting position in qualifying. From the outset, Tifft ran firmly inside the top 10, until an early, unscheduled four-tire pit stop on lap 21. Tifft rejoined the fray in 28th, one lap down to the leaders. While battling a tight condition, crew chief Scott Zipadelli's methodical strategy calls put Tifft in position to catch the Lucky Dog award, and he regained his lap on a lap 84 caution. The previous unscheduled pit stop put Tifft at a disadvantage, and forced the No. 11 team to bolt on "scuffed" tires during that caution period, yet he still managed to claw his way up to 17th by lap 96. His final visit to pit road for fresh tires came on lap 115, and gave him the ability to race for position inside the top 10 in the final fuel run. As five additional caution flags blanketed the closing stages, Tifft's aggressive restarts helped him climb to as high as seventh, and he completed his comeback in the 12th position after the final overtime restart.
Start - 11
Finish - 12
Owner Points Position - 5
Laps Led - 0
Matt Tifft Quote:
"It was an up and down night for sure. It started out with an unscheduled stop and we got way off cycle there. Our BrainGear, Surface Sunscreen Tundra was awesome early on, and thought we had something for them tonight. I was trying to be way more aggressive than I had been in the past, and it was going really well. We eventually got back on (pit) cycle. We had new tires, and other guys were on old tires and some of those late cautions hurt the momentum we had. Obviously, it's great to be back, and I guess you could say I'm 'happily frustrated' to finish 12th."
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