NASCAR rookie takes on first Daytona 500 after battling brain tumor

NASCAR Driver Matt Tifft competes in his first Daytona 500 after beating a brain tumor. (FOX 17 News)

Just a few short years after being diagnosed with a brain tumor, NASCAR rookie Matt Tifft is gearing up for his Daytona 500 debut.

Tifft received news no driver ever wants to hear in 2016. Just two words that would change his life forever: brain tumor.

While recovering from a back injury, doctors discovered a benign brain tumor.

Driving, of course, took a back seat.

“I was told I would never drive a race car again,” Tifft told FOX 17 News. “Selfishly, I just wanted to know when I could get back in the race car again.”

Thankfully, the tumor was successfully removed and the road to recovery began.

In 2017, Tifft got the green flag to get back on the track. The NASCAR driver said his journey has also changed his outlook on driving.

“I had 26 probes hooked up so they could make sure that they couldn’t endues a seizure on me,” Tifft said. “So, this was a rigorous process to get back because it’s uncharted territory.”

Tifft didn’t just recover. He uses his NASCAR platform to advocate for those diagnosed with brain tumors by lobbying for federal funding each year in Washington, D.C. - hoping his story inspires others to stay positive and keep fighting.

He now acts as a spokesperson for the American Brain Tumor Association and the National Brain Tumor Society.

After what he’s been through, Tifft said being at the Daytona 500 has built a fire in him because he knows this opportunity may have never happened.

“As a driver, I want to go out and do the best I can because I know this opportunity was almost taken away from me,” Tifft said. “If you have a bad day in racing and you already go through the stress of thingsit’s not the stress of brain surgery and brain tumors.”

But, no matter the outcome of the “Great American Race,” Tifft already took his spot in victory lane- winning the race that really matters, the race for his life.

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