Matt DiBenedetto feels like "I'm always fighting for my life"

Sunday’s race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway at times appeared a reflection of Matt DiBenedetto’s NASCAR career – constantly in flux.

Just in the three two-lap overtimes that ended the race, DiBenedetto went into being in position to win his first Cup Series race, losing it in a photo finish and then relegated to a 21st-place finish after receiving a penalty.

And now in early October, he still doesn’t know whether he will return next season to his Wood Brothers No. 21 ride, with the team already past an initial deadline it had to pick up an option year on his return.

“It’s just a crazy finish. I haven’t been able to really process it. I just really want to get this thing in Victory Lane,” DiBenedetto said. “I feel like this is the same story a lot of times, just heartbreak.

“My wife and I have had a stressful week again just with the uncertainty – always fighting for my life – but I’m so appreciative of this team. The Wood Brothers, I want this 100th win for the Woods so bad.”

Read Also:

When the final caution of the race came out in double OT, DiBenedetto was scored the leader but believed he may be in danger of running out of fuel.

He restarted the third overtime as the lead but during the final lap, he came down the track on William Byron and shoved him below the yellow line.

As the field exited Turn 4 toward the finish line, DiBenedetto ended up racing three-wide with Denny Hamlin and Ty Dillon for the win.

Hamlin nipped DiBenedetto at the finish for his seventh victory of the 2020 season but DiBenedetto’s finish was wiped out when NASCAR penalized him for shoving Byron below the yellow line earlier during the final lap.

DiBenedetto described driving the final lap as “pure desperation.”

“It was actually tough to see. My windshield was filthy from all the speedy dry. I was having trouble seeing to block. I was blocking everyone’s lane,” he said. “I mean, that was pure desperation, but that’s how I drive every race. Every time I step foot in a race car.

“I’m appreciative for the challenges I’ve faced. That’s what it teaches you when you have those shots. I just want it so bad for my team – (crew chief) Greg Erwin and all these guys.

“Wild finish. That’s Talladega.”

DiBenedetto said there is nothing else he can do than “pray” in hopes of remaining with the Wood Brothers for a second consecutive season in 2021.

He had a solid year in the No. 21, advancing to the playoffs but was eliminated after the first round and is still looking for his first series win.

“I’ve just been so close. It’s a dream come true and there’s a lot of people involved that go into the decision-making and I just pray and pray I get to do it. I’m lucky that I got to drive this year racing for wins,” he said.

“(Against) Denny Hamlin a couple times now. He did a great job. He’s just a tremendous racer. These are tough to swallow.”

shares
comments

Related video

NASCAR explains Talladega penalties, defends yellow line rule

Previous article

NASCAR explains Talladega penalties, defends yellow line rule

Next article

Ty Dillon on his NASCAR future: "My time is not up here"

Ty Dillon on his NASCAR future: "My time is not up here"
Load comments
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