Discussing the season with NASCAR rookie Matt Tifft

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series rookie driver Matt Tifft discussed his season, changes with the new aero package and qualifying.

Matt Tifft, a rookie in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, talked with Motor Racing Digest at Richmond Raceway. The driver of the No. 36 Ford for Front Row Motorsports discussed his 2019 season so far, the changes under the new aero package and his goal for the rest of the season.

How would you rate your season so far?

Probably a C- for us. I feel like each week the second half of the race is where we’ve had decent speed. The biggest part of the struggle has just been me not having a feel of exactly what I want in some of these places we go to. I’ve just been getting that feel for the first part of the race so that’s certainly an area we’ve been slowly working on getting better at.

I feel like the consistency is getting a little bit better there but we still need to get better overall. The good thing for us is that we haven’t had too many failures or any issues like that to really speak of. I’m still learning and we’re all going to get better as a group.

I think we’re all disappointed from the top to the bottom on the results. I don’t think we’re disappointed on where we’ve been at potential speed wise or performance wise but everybody’s disappointed with the results and where we’re at in the point standings.

What changes have you seen with the new aero package this year?

I feel like on the short tracks it was actually kind of nice because the Cup cars drive just like the Xfinity Series cars on the short tracks. There’s a little bit more power when you’re going through the power band coming off of turn two or turn four at a short track like Richmond. For the most though I feel like my braking points and pressure is about the same as an Xfinity car so that’s been an easier transition for me.

Matt Tifft is battling for Rookie of the Year honors this season in the Cup Series. (World Copyright: John Harrelson, NKP)

The mile and a half speedways are a totally different deal for me. It’s is a little bit more back to the truck racing but still even modified from that. The wake of the aero ducts and trying to cut across the rear of the car without hitting the wake of that air is kind of an art and you can drag people from the right rear so much.

Timing your runs and figuring out how to keep that momentum up as definitely been the biggest thing for me.

Would you like to see changes being made to the qualifying format?

I’ve been blocked in my first run at tracks this season but that’s the nature of the beast. At Richmond we had a shorter amount of time and I still got a second lap in and that was fine.

To me qualifying should be you go one run lap and get the best out of the car and where you’re at is where you’re at. I think the shortened time has cleaned it up some but of course it’s going be more busy on the racetrack.

I’d rather go out for five minutes then then screw around and wait and do all that other stuff for ten minutes.

What’s one thing you would like to tell a fan about Front Row Motorsports that they might not know?

Coming up to the Cup Series this year and being with bigger organizations in the past, there’s an underdog mentality with Front Row Motorsports. So when you have days like Michael had at Texas where you get a top-15 or one of the better qualifying days where you make the second or third round, those are the big days for us.

When you have those victories, those small victories, as a team like this you know you’re doing things that you’re not supposed to be doing and that’s kind of the cool moments that happen.

Matt Tifft hopes to have stronger performances when they visit tracks for a second time this season. (World Copyright: John Harrelson, NKP)

What is your goal by the next time we visit Richmond Raceway?

By the time we come back to a track like Richmond we should have enough of a notebook for the places we’re going back to a second time. That’s my goal. I’m just hoping to see that we have continual improvement when we do return of those race tracks.

Making the final round of qualifying would be so huge for our team. At a short track like Richmond we were so close to doing it but we probably didn’t have notebook big enough to be able to go ahead and do that and even for myself just knowing what I needed.

There’s potential here and we can do good things but we just have to execute better.

Follow Matt on Twitter @mattlovisa.

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