DiBenedetto: "We have been contending like a playoff car"

Matt DiBenedetto didn’t make the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs but that hasn’t slowed his progress at Leavine Family Racing.

DiBenedetto: "We have been contending like a playoff car"
 Matt DiBenedetto, Leavine Family Racing, Toyota Camry Toyota Express Maintenance
Matt DiBenedetto, Leavine Family Racing, Toyota Camry Dumont Jets
 Matt DiBenedetto, Leavine Family Racing, Toyota Camry Procore
Matt DiBenedetto, Leavine Family Racing, Toyota Camry Dumont Jets

DiBenedetto gutted out a seventh-place performance Sunday at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, and all six drivers ahead of him in the final results are competing in the playoffs.

It wasn’t an easy task as DiBenedetto and his No. 95 Toyota started 20th and he didn’t crack the top-10 at the end of either of the first two stages.

“All day, inching forward. Very little by little. That was the team, just so you know - (Mike Wheeler, crew chief) and my whole group, pit crew, everybody, making really good adjustments,” DiBenedetto said describing his day at Dover.

“It took a lot of discipline. The car was really fast. Even faster than seventh-place, but you get in situations with the dirty air and with the high downforce it was a lot harder to pass. The fastest drivers had to be a lot more disciplined. 

“You had to stay behind them and not abuse your stuff and wait for traffic or situations to pounce.”

 

It was the seventh top-10 finish of the season for DiBenedetto, who will move to Wood Brothers Racing in the 2020 season to drive the iconic No. 21 Ford.

DiBenedetto’s finish inched the No. 95 team closer to the top-20 in points. After falling to a season-low 26th in June, they have slowing climbed up the standings as DiBenedetto’s performances have improved.

With six races remaining in the 2019 season, DiBenedetto now sits 21st in points and well within striking distance of cracking the top before season’s end (he trails 20th place Chris Buescher by 14 points).

“I love working with this team. They are such good people. I’m so appreciative to work with them. I’m so glad this whole second half of the season has really turned around where we have been knocking off a bunch of top-10’s, so it’s really important to us,” DiBenedetto said. 

“We’re trying to get in the top-20 in points. We’ve been climbing up big time the second half of the year running where we probably deserved to run. I hate that we aren’t in the Playoffs, because we have been contending like a Playoff car. 

“But it is what it is. I’m just thankful we’ve had some good solid runs.”

Read Also:

shares
comments
NASCAR's Phelps "very excited" to see Gen-7 car on track

Previous article

NASCAR's Phelps "very excited" to see Gen-7 car on track

Next article

How one win has made Kyle Larson a 2019 title contender

How one win has made Kyle Larson a 2019 title contender
Load comments

About this article

Series NASCAR Cup
Author Jim Utter
From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview Prime

From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview

The death of Dale Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500 shocked NASCAR to the core. At the Daytona 24 Hours, two weeks before his fatal accident, ‘The Intimidator’ shared his expectations of challenging for an eighth Cup title with JONATHAN INGRAM, in an article first published in the 15 February 2001 issue of Autosport magazine. Little did we know then what tragedy would unfold…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death Prime

The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death

On February 18, 2001, seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Dale Earnhardt – the fearless ‘Intimidator’ – was in his element at Daytona International Speedway. While his own DEI team’s cars ran 1-2 towards the finish line, his famed #3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo was playing rear gunner to block any late runs from the chasing pack. As the cars tore through Turns 3 and 4 on that fateful final lap, Earnhardt maintained the strongarm tactics that encapsulated his persona… but his actions in those moments sadly proved to be his last.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR Prime

Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR

The NASCAR Cup Series is changing. Whether it be the gradual morphing out the seasoned drivers of yesterday as the next generation step up, a radical calendar shake-up featuring more road courses than ever before and the prospect of an all-new car on the horizon, stock car racing’s highest level is nearing the end of a huge facelift.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2021
The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021 Prime

The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 13, 2021
Why Kyle Larson can't blow his big shot at redemption Prime

Why Kyle Larson can't blow his big shot at redemption

From a disgraced NASCAR exile, Kyle Larson has been given a chance of redemption by the powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports squad. Effectively replacing seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson is no easy billing, but Larson has every intention of repaying the team's faith...

NASCAR Cup
Feb 11, 2021
Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon Prime

Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon

In this exclusive one-on-one interview, Roger Penske reveals the inner drive that has made him not only a hugely successful team owner and businessman but also the owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar. He spoke to David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Dec 28, 2020
Why NASCAR's latest second-generation champion is just getting started Prime

Why NASCAR's latest second-generation champion is just getting started

Chase Elliott's late charge to the 2020 NASCAR Cup title defied predictions that it would be a Kevin Harvick versus Denny Hamlin showdown. While the two veterans are showing no signs of slowing down, Elliott's triumph was a window into NASCAR's future…

NASCAR Cup
Nov 18, 2020
Why Kyle Larson deserves his second chance in a cancel culture Prime

Why Kyle Larson deserves his second chance in a cancel culture

“You can’t hear me? Hey n*****” Those fateful words uttered by Kyle Larson, spoken into his esports headset on April 12, were directed at his sim racing spotter – but instead they quickly became amplified around the world via social media, including his own Twitch stream.

NASCAR Cup
Oct 29, 2020