|09/29/20||Message from Kentucky Speedway|
|09/28/20||Kurt Busch Wins at Las Vegas|
|09/20/20||Harvick Wins at Bristol|
|09/13/20||Brad Dominates, Wins at Richmond|
|09/07/20||Kevin Harvick opens Cup Series playoffs with Southern 500 win|
|08/31/20||Byron wins his way into the Playoffs at Daytona|
Matt Tifft Encourages Young Fan Before XFINITY Series Return
Colton Smith enjoys playing video games and Pokemon, boasts about his cooking skills and dreams of suiting up someday for the Boston Celtics.
Math is the sixth grader's favorite subject at Ockerman Middle School in Florence, Kentucky.
"I like multiplication," he said.
NASCAR crew chiefs use math every day in their jobs, XFINITY Series driver Matt Tifft explained in a meeting with 11-year-old Colton and his family on Saturday at Kentucky Speedway.
Tifft also shared his experience about having the same kind of brain tumor that doctors say is the reason Colton has been experiencing seizures for the past four years.
The VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 marked Tifft's return to the XFINITY Series after undergoing surgery in July to remove a low-grade glioma - a benign tumor - from his brain.
"Whether you're a kid or whether you're elderly or in the middle, it's a tough thing to go through," said Tifft, who drives the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. "It sounds like he has the right attitude for it, so that's a good sign."
Tifft, 20, underwent a craniotomy on July 1. It was around that time that Colton's family found out that he had a tumor. Colton is handling the situation courageously.
"I've asked him, 'Are you worried? Are you scared?' I can tell he is," his mother, Ashley Brown, said. "He's just got a real brave face on and he's like, 'You know what? I just want it to be done and over with so I can go back to playing sports and being a kid again.'"
Tifft autographed Colton's hat and a "hero card." He also posed for pictures and offered Colton and his family encouragement and tips about how he handled the health issue.
"I really tried to stay positive through the whole thing and the best case scenario that you have going for you is when it's a Grade II like I had, and it sounds like you have the same thing, is that it can be caught pretty early and then you're done with it," Tifft said.
"I'm two months and a week out from doing it. I've got this cool scar here but other than that you get through it. I know your mom won't like to hear it, but after a while the girls are going to think that's cool."
The family planned to go home after meeting Tifft and return in time to watch the race. Smith's grandfather works an usher during race weekends at Kentucky Speedway.
"It's such a great thing for Matt to take the time out to meet with Colton and give him a little encouragement and show him that he doesn't have as much to worry about," Brown said. "It eases our minds a little bit to see how positive Matt is after going through the same thing. It's very inspiring."
By taking time out of his schedule, Tifft, who qualified sixth, gained a new fan and friend.
"He likes NASCAR," Brown said of her son. "But I think we're making a much bigger NASCAR fan out of him now."
FRONT ROW: Joe Gibbs Racing swept the front row in qualifying for the VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300. Erik Jones earned his eighth pole position of the season and 11th career in the XFINITY Series with a lap of 187.207 mph. Daniel Suarez qualified second at 186.425 mph.
Jones' No. 20 Toyota was fast from the get-go this weekend. He led both practices on Friday and two of the three qualifying segments Saturday.
"I didn't know if that lap would be good enough," Jones said. "We were pretty free through (Turns) 3 and 4. It was everything we had right there. We just went a little bit too far on our adjustment and got a little bit free. I think if we get it tuned up a little bit for the race there will be some more left in it. As long as it stays good for the long run, I think we'll be in a pretty good position."
ODDS AND ENDS: Blake Jones' debut in the XFINITY Series ended early after he was involved in a multi-car wreck in Turn 2 on Lap 77. Jones won an ARCA Racing Series race last year at Talladega Superspeedway….The No. 13 Toyota started at the rear of the field in Saturday's race because of a driver change after qualifying. Timmy Hill started the race after Mark Thompson drove it in qualifying and practice.…Justin Marks brought out the first caution when he spun in Turn 3. Marks managed to avoid hitting the wall in the No. 42 Chevrolet. In August, Marks earned his first XFINITY Series victory in a race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. He qualified 13th….Saturday's race marked the 21st time the XFINITY Series has visited Kentucky Speedway….Sarah Cornett-Ching on Friday walked away from one of the most violent wrecks in recent memory at Kentucky Speedway, and added safety equipment likely helped her avoid serious injury. The track installed SAFER Barrier along the entire length of the inside backstretch wall this year. Cornett-Ching and Shane Lee made contact as they exited Turn 2 in the ARCA Racing Series event on Friday. The left-front of Lee's car and right rear of Cornett-Ching turned her into the outside wall. The impact redirected Cornett-Ching across the track and hard into the inside backstretch wall.