Joe Gibbs Racing Xfinity Series driver Matt Tifft is out indefinitely after doctors found a brain tumor while treating him for a disk condition in his back.
Tifft had surgery Friday afternoon, and his family said on his Twitter account Friday night that he is out of surgery and doing well.
Tifft, 20, will need to spend time in rehabilitation before being cleared to race again.
The tumor was about the size of a half-dollar and was located on the right side near his temple, about an inch into his brain at the deepest point, Tifft said in an interview Wednesday. It was not cancerous but had the potential to grow aggressively.
Once doctors can test the tumor and know whether it was completely removed, Tifft will know the recovery plan and find out if he needs any chemotherapy or radiation.
If not for the disc problem in his back, Tifft would never have known about the tumor. He said he had a concussion when he was younger and has always had some sensitivity to light. So he figured since he was having an MRI on his back, he had might as well have his head scanned. That is when doctors found the tumor, which Tifft said he might have had for years.
"We kind of lucked out that we found it when we did," Tifft said. "It's not lucky it was there, but we are lucky that we caught it in plenty enough time. ... You never want to be thankful to be hurt, but in this case in a way, it's bizarre how it worked out. ... Without that [back problem], who knows if I ever would have gone in?"
Tifft has competed in six Xfinity races this year, including three in the JGR No. 18 car. He sat on the pole in April at Talladega, where he finished a career-best eighth. He also finished eighth two weeks later at Dover.
"This has definitely been a breakout year," Tifft said. "It's definitely a tough spot to be taken out right in the middle of your limited races. But I feel like, in a good way, where I'm at in my career, I have really proven what I can do this year.
"This is just something I've got to work through. ... I'm just really appreciative of all the support [from the racing community] I've gotten already. It's been pretty overwhelming."
In addition to his part-time Xfinity schedule, Tifft was driving a part-time Camping World Truck Series schedule in the Red Horse Racing No. 11 truck. He finished a career-best fifth in his most recent outing in May at Charlotte. He has seven top-10 finishes in 18 career truck starts.
David Ragan will replace Tifft in the JGR No. 18 Xfinity Series car this weekend at Daytona.