DiBenedetto and team in tears after outstanding Bristol result
It was a Victory Lane celebration, but without the trophy.
Minutes after Matt DiBenedetto brought his No. 83 BK Racing Toyota to a stop on the backstretch Sunday at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, his car was mobbed with members of his team and family in celebration.
His sixth-place finish in the Food City 500 was a career-best for the driver and the fledgling Cup series operation. The team’s previous best finish was eighth by Travis Kvapil at Talladega, Ala., in 2012.
“I’m just so thankful for my team and everyone that supports me,” DiBenedetto said as tears swelled in his eyes. “I’m just speechless. This is just an incredible day for us. I’m so thankful to have this opportunity.
“My career has been up and down and I thought it was over many times. Then to be racing in the Sprint Cup Series is an honor. I’m just so thankful to everybody.”
It was true that several top drivers in the series experienced issues in the race but DiBenedetto’s finish was no fluke.
"Sixth is like a win for us"
As the race wound to a close, DiBenedetto had worked his way into the Top 15 and in the final 20 laps he began out-dueling some of the sport’s best – including Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Ryan Newman – to cross the finish line in sixth.
“A sixth-place finish for me and BK Racing – this is like a win for us. I apologize for being so emotional,” DiBenedetto said. “This is an incredible run. Everyone on this team worked so hard busting their tails in order for me to drive this race car in the Cup series.”
DiBenedetto’s previous best finish this season was 20th at Phoenix and best start was 20th at Daytona.
"I shed a tear when the Matt crossed the finish line," said team co-owner Ron Devine.
BK Racing made some strides in the offseason to improve its program, purchasing more than a dozen cars from the now-defunct Michael Waltrip Racing and also hired several former MWR employees. The organization is also receiving additional support from Toyota Racing Development this season.
The 24-year-old California native said Sunday’s finish helps validate his decision to continue chasing a career as a top level driver in NASCAR.
“This is such a great day. I’ve dreamt of this my whole life. To be racing at the end with guys like Kevin Harvick and Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott, I’m just really thankful,” DiBenedetto said.
“This team was worked so hard in the offseason. This is a team effort and I’m not going to take all the credit for this. Without a great team, great attitude by everybody and a great race car, I can’t do anything.”
DiBenedetto’s crew chief, Gene Nead – a longtime veteran in the sport – said his team would appreciate Sunday’s result.
“It’s a Top 10 – that’s a big deal in this series, you know, and we’re a relatively small team,” he said. “Anytime you can finish in the Top 10, it’s pretty big for us.”
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|Location||Bristol Motor Speedway|