LEXINGTON — The Buckeye State will have plenty of representation when the green flag falls on Rock N Roll Tequila 170 Presented by Amethyst Beverage on Saturday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Matt Tifft, of Hinckley, Ohio, will be making his second start on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn permanent road course in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Later today, he gets the honor to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Cleveland Indians game, then Tifft will race the No. 2 Fanatics/Cleveland Indians Chevrolet adorned with a special Indians livery design during the race weekend.
“Throwing out the first pitch at the Cleveland Indians game is honestly like a dream come true for me. I grew up and Indians fan and have had season tickets for the past 15 years. Some of my best memories are from when my dad and I would go to every possible game we could,” said Tifft, racing for the legendary Richard Childress Racing. “I never thought I’d have the chance to do something like this. This experience will be really special to me and kind of nerve-wracking! I’ve never done anything like this before, and I want to do a good job for them. Then to have them riding along on the upper quarter panels of my No. 2 Chevrolet Camaro with me all weekend at my home track, it means a lot.”
Tifft missed most of the 2016 season after undergoing surgery to remove a glioma found on his brain when he was receiving treatment for a separate back injury. Racing in front of his friends and family in his home state makes it an even greater event for Tifft.
“Every time I get in my No. 2 Chevrolet Camaro is special to me since recovering from my brain tumor surgery,” Tifft said. “The doctors initially had told me I would never drive again, so every race since coming back is special. Last year was my first time racing at Mid-Ohio despite growing up just 35 minutes away, and it was a special weekend for me. Having all my friends and family out at the track who supported me when I went through my fight with the brain tumor now supporting my racing career feels great. I really enjoyed this track last year and hope to have another great weekend there this year.”
Kaulig Racing, owned by Northeast Ohio entrepreneur Matt Kaulig who was born in Columbus, raised in Cincinnati, moved to Chicago, then was a star quarterback at the University of Akron, fields the No. 11 Chevrolet Camaro entry for Ryan Truex. Austin Cindric, a rookie driving the defending race winner No. 22 Ford for Team Penske, also has Mid-Ohio roots and is the grandson of Jim Trueman, the late former owner of Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in the 1980s.
Some of the NASCAR team crew members hailing from Ohio include:
Austin Dickey – Ashtabula, Ohio – Front Changer – No. 1 for Elliott Sadler
Chris Krieg – Colebrook, Ohio – Pit Coach – No. 1 for Elliott Sadler
Ryan Patton – Delphos, Ohio – Front Carrier – No. 35 for Joey Gase
Dan Collins – Columbus, Ohio – Hauler Driver – No. 42 for John Hunter Nemechek
Mike Harmon – Lima, Ohio – Crew Chief/Rear Changer – No. 74 for Mike Harmon
The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli will feature multiple drivers from Ohio including Ryan McManus (Westfield Center), David Pintaric (Canfield), Amy Ruman (Stow), and Aaron Quine (Medina) across the series two races. John Paul Sourthern Jr. from Westlake will compete in the three rounds of Formula 3 Americas Championship Powered by Honda on the weekend schedule.