*Editor’s note: This article previously incorrectly listed Matt DiBenedetto’s NASCAR Cup Series points position as 17th after Las Vegas. DiBenedetto is 10th in the championship standings, and that has been updated in the story below.
Since June of 2017, Wood Brothers Racing has been locked at 99 wins through their historic history as a NASCAR Cup Series team. In Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Matt DiBenedetto came up just shy of the 100th-milestone win for the organization in just his second start for the No. 21 team.
For DiBenedetto, his second-place finish is almost a pinch-me type of moment.
“This one was an encouraging second-place finish for sure,” said an elated DiBenedetto. “It’s so cool. It’s too dang surreal to be driving this thing in the first place, the legendary Motorcraft/Quick Lane No. 21. It’s so cool to have the support of them and Menards and Ford and this whole team. It took so many people and it’s so cool to be driving for the Wood Brothers. It took so many people to get me this thing and we’re close – the second race of the season and we’re already starting off with a second-place finish. That’s great. I’m happy for Joey. Those Penske cars were really fast and I can’t thank them enough for their help of our team as well. We were close. I made a real aggressive move there. Greg Erwin, my crew chief, made great calls and that’s what it took to get us up there and inch up there all day.”
While DiBenedetto didn’t look to have a car capable of winning throughout the race, he did look to have a top-10 race car. However, when a caution came out with just a few laps left, DiBenedetto joined eventual race winner Joey Logano and five others by staying on the track, while the rest of the field pitted.
DiBenedetto, with the newly gained track position, was able to make the most of it over the final restart of the day for his second runner-up finish of his career. DiBenedetto isn’t surprised by the great start he’s having with the Wood Brothers, as he is confident in his race team.
“Yeah, I knew the team has every bit of that capability,” DiBenedetto explained. “They’re so good with Greg Erwin leading these guys. This team is phenomenal. There’s no doubt about that. I was a little worried about our car, though. It wasn’t a picture-perfect day. We had to make huge adjustments and our communication was great from me screaming really loose and us being off to start and then dialing it in little by little every pit stop, and then getting it there at the end where I was comfortable staying out because I knew the car had great speed. It was best on the long runs and we just needed a little track position because we were a little stuck in the dirty air.”
After two races, DiBenedetto, who was one of the feel-good stories of the 2019 season while driving for Leavine Family Racing, sits 10th in the NASCAR Cup Series championship standings. Now, DiBenedetto and his No. 21 team will look to record that 100th victory next week at Auto Club Speedway.
Here is DiBenedetto’s post-race interview from Sunday:
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) February 24, 2020
Toby is the Founder, Editor and go-to man for TobyChristie.com. He is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, Toby is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award winning writer, and has followed NASCAR as a fan since 1993.