DiBenedetto: "I've never been this comfortable and confident"

Matt DiBenedetto made no secret that his move to the Wood Brothers this season would be the best opportunity of his NASCAR career and he’s finally been able to show it.

DiBenedetto: "I've never been this comfortable and confident"
Matt DiBenedetto, Wood Brothers Racing Ford Menards/Richmond
Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Cincinnati, \c432\ and Matt DiBenedetto, Wood Brothers Racing, Ford Mustang Menards/Quaker State
Matt DiBenedetto, Wood Brothers Racing, Ford Mustang Motorcraft/Quick Lane
Joey Logano, Team Penske, Ford Mustang Shell Pennzoil and Matt DiBenedetto, Wood Brothers Racing, Ford Mustang Menards/Quaker State
Matt DiBenedetto, Wood Brothers Racing, Ford Mustang Menards/Quaker State
Matt DiBenedetto, Wood Brothers Racing, Ford Mustang Menards/Quaker State, Clint Bowyer, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang One Cure, Joey Logano, Team Penske, Ford Mustang Shell Pennzoil
Matt DiBenedetto, Wood Brothers Racing, Ford Mustang
Matt DiBenedetto, Wood Brothers Racing, Ford Mustang Motorcraft/Quick Lane

DiBenedetto, 28, turned in a strong run in Sunday’s Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway, rebounding from the loss of track position due to poorly timed cautions during green-flag pit stops to become a contender for the win on the final lap.

Having worked his way up to eighth by the final caution, DiBenedetto gave a big push to Cole Custer on the final two-lap restart to help propel him into the lead as the field went four-wide on the last lap. Custer held on for his first series win while DiBenedetto ended up third.

Putting the Wood Brothers in the playoffs

DiBenedetto has finished sixth or higher in two of the last three races and finds himself 12th in the series standings – the highest he’s been this late into a season during his career.

“I’ve never been this comfortable and this confident,” he said. “What does that, though, is my team. Driving this No. 21 car for the Wood Brothers, having such a good team, great people around you.

“Having our alliance with Team Penske, support from them. All the support from Ford. That is what does it. That’s what makes my confidence so high because I’m so confident in my guys.”

Through 17 races, DiBenedetto has two top-five and five top-10 finishes and matched his career-best finish of second earlier this year at Las Vegas. His previous career best top-10s in a season was seven, which came last year while competing for Leavine Family Racing.

“I could look at every race track we’ve been to, every single one, we’ve had a lot of car speed other than Darlington (which was) the only track where I was disappointed with our race car,” DiBenedetto said.

“Really we just had to work on working together and meshing as a team because we just didn’t execute real well at some races, made some mistakes, were kind of comers and goers, this and that. Lately we’ve really gotten our communication on track, working together.

“Looking forward to the rest of the season, consistency is going to be key. That’s what we’re having lately, is consistent runs from start to finish. We’ve gotten stage points in all the last six stages or something like that of these last handful of races. That shows the strength of our team moving forward for the rest of the year.”

Making the All-Star Race

DiBenedetto and his No. 21 Ford team will have another chance to showcase their improvement on Wednesday night when they compete in the NASCAR All-Star Open. Each of the three stage winners in the event will transfer into the All-Star Race field as will the winner of the fan vote.

Bristol has been one of DiBenedetto’s best tracks and the site of his first top-10 finish (sixth) of his Cup Series career in 2016.

“I’m excited to have the opportunity to race our way in. I know the fan vote is important, too. People have been voting, which we appreciate a lot as a team,” he said.

“You guys see how fast our cars are. It makes it so fun driving these things. We’re really getting in a groove as a team now. I finally feel it clicking real well.

“We get a good starting spot, have a good track position, I feel like we can race our way in and be fast.”

And perhaps $1 million richer.

shares
comments
Cole Custer's rookie season produces "unimaginable" first win

Previous article

Cole Custer's rookie season produces "unimaginable" first win

Next article

All-Star Race and NASCAR Open starting lineups

All-Star Race and NASCAR Open starting lineups
Load comments
Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI Prime

Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI

In a career that has had many ups and downs, Kurt Busch has been written off many times before. But facing career uncertainty after the sale of Chip Ganassi's NASCAR team, the 2004 Cup champion has found a new berth at Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan's 23XI organization - which underlines his enduring value

NASCAR Cup
Aug 31, 2021
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