NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS)
Phoenix International Raceway – March 17, 2017
Joe Gibbs Racing driver Matt Tifft was made available to the media at Phoenix International Raceway:
MATT TIFFT, No. 19 Surface Sunscreen / Tunity / Braingear Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
What are you looking forward to about the Dash 4 Cash program kicking off this weekend?
“It’s such a cool program XFINITY ‘s put on for us. This year it’s a little bit different not having the heat races, but doing the stages this year. A little bit like Brennan (Poole) said, obviously the money is on the line and we want to be able to go and get that, but at the end of the day it is still a race and with these stages we still have some many points and playoff implications if you can win that. We definitely have a little bit more incentive to go out at the end of the race if we’re in contention for that to be able to go and compete for the Dash 4 Cash prize. It is still a race and for myself I want to make sure that we’re in a position where we can be competing for the Dash 4 Cash program at the end of the race. It’s definitely an awesome program but we have to make sure we’re in a strong and competitive place before we can be in that place. You just have to put yourself in that position to go out and compete for the one hundred grand tomorrow.”
What’s the most money you have ever raced for in a single race and why has no one ever won the Dash 4 Cash $1,000,000 prize?
“For myself this is definitely the biggest amount of incentive for a race to win that I have ever been a part of which is awesome that we get to do that. To answer your question about the why has nobody ever gotten the one million dollars, if you want to sit there and you’re running second place to a guy who has won three races, that fourth one, you don’t care how many races they’ve won. You want to go out and win a race. You’re not going to be safe and say ‘Oh, I’m going to let him win one million dollars because that’s cool’. At the end of the day we’re all racers. Every spot is so crucial and you don’t care what anybody else has going on. We’re all selfish as race car drivers. We want to go out and win the money or win the race. We have such great competition in this garage and that’s one of the things I’ve learned over these few weeks is how to race around those guys and get better. That’s such a cool thing. As Brennan (Poole) said, we’re guys that are trying to prove ourselves and this is an awesome program to go out and do that and highlight some of our series regulars and guys up and coming through this series.”
Do you like that the Cup drivers are restricted to less NASCAR XFINITY Series races?
“I’ll give you an example of a little bit of Cup experience or knowledge that I learned off of last week. We took tires and Kyle did in front of us too and we restarted, we were both on the outside, maybe 14th or 16th, something like that. I thought I had a pretty good restart. I picked up four or five spots the first couple of laps. And then a caution came out a few laps later and Kyle Busch is in third. Just absolutely incredible driving that he does on restarts. That’s the time where you say ‘Okay, I’ve got some work to do to get to that point’. And he passed some great cars. There were some great cars around him. We moved up some but you just go ‘Wow that was impressive’. That’s when you go back and watch the tape and go ‘Okay, how did he do that? How can I replicate that?’. And make that a part of your own repertoire to have that skillset in your back pocket when you need to use it. That’s just an example of where the Cup guys are so good at knowing what they need to do. And Brad (Keselowski) is the same way. I definitely like the rule change. I think it’s a good way to make sure our XFINITY regulars shine, but at the same time, like these guys (Justin Allgaier and Brennan Poole) have said, I learn a ton off those guys. Even when we have this weekend with Erik Jones and Daniel Suárez in there, I’ve raced with those guys for years. They’re great teammates and great competitors. There’s always something to learn from them, but there’s still just that extra level you can look at guys like Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano and say I need to get better to be able to compete. They’re the best in the Cup Series too. They’re not just the best in the XFINITY Series. Jumping up to that point is a chance to say what do I need to do better as a race car driver to get to where they are in their careers.”
Are you getting advice from the Cup crew chiefs or your Cup teammates before your race?
“I’ve talked to quite a few of the Cup drivers before race weekends. I try to bounce information and questions off of them as much as I can to where it’s relevant. That’s been definitely a difference this year with the stages and what we’re doing now. The first couple ones you just kind of had to feel it out. I think everybody in the garage between all three series was feeling it out. I think a lot of people talk. Those guys that are going to go out and compete for the stages and be able to achieve those points are the ones you’re going to see higher up in the point standings. If you miss that opportunity, it’s just a huge missed chance there. I know the last two weeks I’ve made sure to put an emphasis on trying to get the most points possible if we can. Those guys they know what the stakes are and they know what they need to do. Being a full-time XFINITY driver, I need to make sure that I’m taking the best chance of grasping those points when I need to.”