Matt DiBenedetto: “It’s exciting to climb the ladder” with LFR

Matt DiBenedetto enjoyed best finish to date with Leavine Family Racing at Bristol Motor Speedway but feels it could have been better.

Matt DiBenedetto: “It’s exciting to climb the ladder” with LFR
Matt DiBenedetto, Leavine Family Racing, Toyota Camry LFR Pro League
Matt DiBenedetto, Leavine Family Racing, Toyota Camry LFR Pro League
Matt DiBenedetto, Leavine Family Racing, Toyota Camry LFR Pro League Kurt Busch, Chip Ganassi Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Monster Energy
Matt DiBenedetto, Leavine Family Racing, Toyota Camry LFR Pro League
Matt DiBenedetto, Leavine Family Racing, Toyota Camry LFR Pro League
Matt DiBenedetto, Leavine Family Racing, Toyota Camry LFR Pro League
Bob Leavine
Matt DiBenedetto, Leavine Family Racing, Toyota Camry LFR Pro League
Matt DiBenedetto, Leavine Family Racing, Toyota Camry LFR Pro League
Matt DiBenedetto, Leavine Family Racing, Toyota Camry LFR Pro League
Matt DiBenedetto, Leavine Family Racing, Toyota Camry LFR Pro League
Matt DiBenedetto, Leavine Family Racing, Toyota Camry LFR Pro League
Ed Laukes, Group Vice President at Toyota North America, with Bob Leavine and Joe Gibbs

Everyone already knew Leavine Family Racing had fast cars this season. They came right out of the gates at Daytona International Speedway with DiBenedetto and led the most laps of the Daytona 500 before getting collected in an accident.

It appeared for most of the day on Sunday that the new pairing were going to celebrate their first top-five finish together before a late pit call worked against the team.

“We should have stayed out and it was a combination of a little miscommunication between all of us,” said DiBenedetto. “We’ll learn and move on and sometimes you have that with new people working together.

“I never dreamed I’d feel a little down after a 12th-place finish but I have plenty of reasons to be optimistic and look forward to more strong runs like we had on Sunday.”

If it appears the always smiling and gregarious DiBenedetto is smiling a little more or has a little more pep in his step, he has good reason to feel that way.

“I’ll just say it - I was desperately wanting this ride with Leavine Family Racing and now that I have it and I see firsthand how committed everyone on the team is to being successful, it does make me happy as a driver,” said DiBenedetto. “It’s exciting to climb the ladder and get into a ride that you know will be competitive week in and week out.”

While it wasn’t his best career finish in a Cup car, the speed his team showed throughout the weekend at Bristol gives the California-born driver who now calls Hickory, N.C., home a reason to be so optimistic.

“I’ve known Bob (Leavine) and his wife Sharon a long time and I knew how dedicated they are to this team and anything they do really,” said DiBenedetto. “I could tell before I got here how hard they were working on their team and now to be a part of it I really see it all firsthand now.”

This season is also like coming home for the 27 year-old driver. When he first started driving in the NASCAR national series with Joe Gibbs Racing in 2009 he was driving a Toyota and with LFR switching to the brand in 2019, he’s seen things come full circle in that regard.

“I got my start in the NASCAR national series driving a Toyota and I have to tell you they can spoil you as a driver,” said DiBenedetto. “Everyone at Toyota and TRD are so committed to their teams and I call them family because they truly make you feel like you are part of their family.

“It’s also nice to have the alliance with JGR and I’m still familiar with several people over there and that is a big help having us work together.”

From the editor, also read:

Another sign of commitment by the team is deciding to feature the new eNASCAR Heat Pro League on the No. 95 Toyota Camry on Sunday.The new online gaming league just held its first draft with the car at Bristol highlighting the two draft picks for the team who’ll begin league play in May.

Nicholas Vroman and Josh Harbin are the two draft picks on Leavine Family Racing’s gaming team and DiBenedetto shared his thoughts on showcasing the new league and his new ‘teammates’ on the car.

“That’s really cool to be a part of this new league and I enjoyed making our first draft pick in selecting Nicholas,” said DiBenedetto. “This is another example of how committed Bob and Sharon are to anything associated with the race team.

“I thought the paint scheme looked great and promoting the league will be good for all of us associated with the new program. Heck their names on my car where a whole lot bigger than mine and I hope they enjoyed seeing that on the car this past weekend.”

Read Also:

shares
comments
How Kevin Harvick overcame disaster to finish 13th at Bristol

Previous article

How Kevin Harvick overcame disaster to finish 13th at Bristol

Next article

Roundtable: Will Kyle Busch win 10 races in 2019?

Roundtable: Will Kyle Busch win 10 races in 2019?
Load comments

About this article

Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Matt DiBenedetto
Teams Leavine Family Racing
Author Tim Southers
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