Matt DiBenedetto finally broke through and captured his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory after a confusing conclusion to Saturday’s Chevy Silverado 250 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Whether you’re talking about the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway or the site of Saturday’s race, Talladega, Superspeedway races in the NCWTS have always seemed to have wild finishes.
The first and only overtime restart attempt in Saturday’s event proved that notion once again.
After a painstaking wait for NASCAR to declare the official winner of the race, DiBenedetto, who has been so close, so many times to a NASCAR National Series win, was declared to be ahead of Ben Rhodes and Bret Holmes at the time of caution feet before the finish line. He had finally broken through.
“Thank you so much,” DiBenedetto said in his victory interview on the FS1 broadcast. “My fans, I’m so thankful they have beared with me through so much, through me being a reckless human sometimes, through life and so much life change. I’m so thankful. So thankful to do this. I’m so grateful for everybody I love. I love you fans, Rackley Roofing, WAR shocks, [and] this whole team. I’m out of breath. I was so nervous waiting to hear what happened.”
While it was bold moves and being in the right place at the right time when NASCAR hit pause on a replay, DiBenedetto’s win was about more than a couple of aggressive turns of the wheel and a debate about who the true winner of the race was.
It was a complete team effort on Saturday.
DiBenedetto was placed on a pit strategy that varied from the top finishers at the end of Stage 2, which set the 31-year-old up for a restart on the second row at the start of the final stage.
After a series of cautions, DiBenedetto managed to stay in the top 10 and was back in third for an overtime restart.
For the entire final run to the checkers, the No. 25 Rackley WAR Chevrolet Silverado was glued to the bottom lane as the third truck in line and after the second place competitor chose the top lane in the trioval, DiBenedetto looked for a gap underneath leader, Ben Rhodes down by the finish line.
As DiBenedetto found that gap and Rhodes reacted by attempting to block and sending DiBenedetto below the yellow line, it was officially a drag race between Rhodes, DiBenedetto, and Holmes for the win.
Then the caution came out for a melee behind the trio, which froze the field and led to a short wait after the finish of the race as DiBenedetto was ultimately named the winner.
Winning a race was an accomplishment that DiBenedetto could never reach in the NASCAR Cup Series despite coming close on multiple occasions.
“My spotter, Doug Campbell is awesome,” he said. “We work together so good, I think in the Cup Series we’ve led on the white flag twice here at Talladega. So, I owe a lot to him and at the end there we were just really committed to staying at the bottom and this thing pushed well so I was just committed to staying there and push[ed] whoever was in front of me.
DiBenedetto spent seven years in the Cup Series, and while he started from humble beginnings driving for the likes of BK Racing and Go Fas Racing, he began finding success with those underdog teams, which led to a move to Leavine Family Racing in 2019, where he recorded a runner-up finish at Bristol Motor Speedway, and ultimately a two-year stint at the iconic Wood Brothers Racing.
After racking up two second-place finishes and three top-three finishes over two years with Wood Brothers Racing, the team opted to go in a different direction with their No. 21 Ford Mustang at the end of 2021. As Harrison Burton took over as their driver for the 2022 season, that left DiBenedetto as a free agent and wondering what was next.
A switch to the Truck Series was a first for the California native and the opportunity was given to him by the Rackley WAR organization, who entered their second season of full-time competition in the series.
After showing speed early in the season, but ultimately failing to close out races, resulting in DiBenedetto missing the NCWTS Playoffs, the pairing finally reached victory lane in their 21st start together.
They will now attempt to build on this momentum for next year as DiBenedetto has already been announced to return to Rackley WAR for the full Truck Series schedule again in 2023.
“This team deserves it, Curtis Sutton, my team owner. Rackley Roofing getting behind me 100 percent and supporting me is absolutely amazing and Willie Allen our other team owner and WAR shocks and my crew chief Chad [Kendrick]. All these guys, we’ve gone through some growing pains and this is much deserved. I’m so proud of this team.”
Two career statistics were achieved on DiBenedetto’s monumental day and that would be his first NASCAR National Series victory and his first and only lap led in NCWTS was the one that provided him the win on Saturday.