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Matt DiBenedetto Notches Career-Best Eighth with Viking Motorsports at Talladega

Photo Credit: Danny Hansen, NKP, Courtesy of Ford Performance

It has been a grueling eight months for Matt DiBenedetto.

The 32-year-old driver has been through the wringer since confirming his departure from NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team Rackley WAR at the end of the 2023 season — a seat he would be removed from three races early.

Attempting to reposition himself somewhere along NASCAR’s ladder system proved to be a challenge for DiBenedetto, who like the vast majority of racers in the modern era need to have some kind of financial backing in their corner to secure a ride at any level.

In January, when things appeared to be moving in a positive direction for DiBenedetto, the driver had to pull the plug on a sponsorship deal his team had in the works, leaving the seven-year veteran of the NASCAR Cup Series without a sponsor heading into the new season, and absent from Speedweeks at Daytona.

That absence lasted about six weeks, with DiBenedetto getting the call to compete in five NASCAR Xfinity Series events for Viking Motorsports, with his first race behind the wheel of the No. 38 Ford Mustang coming at Richmond Raceway on March 31.

In his four starts with the organization (Richmond, Martinsville, Texas, and Talladega), DiBenedetto has not finished worse than 21st, launching the No. 38 Ford Mustang team higher in the NASCAR Xfinity Series owner points than they have been all season, currently in 33rd.

“Crazy to go from just a few weeks ago, I was sitting at home, now to have this opportunity,” DiBenedetto said. “I’m just super thankful for Viking Motorsports, owner Don Sackett, and the whole group here that called me and gave me this opportunity. I’m very thankful to not be sitting at home and to be behind the wheel of a racecar in the Xfinity Series. These cars are a blast to drive, so I love that part of it, and just to be behind the wheel I’m definitely grateful.”

For DiBenedetto, an eighth-place finish in Saturday’s Ag-Pro 300 at Talladega Superspeedway marked a career-best result in 73 NASCAR Xfinity Series events, and therefore, his best result in four starts driving the No. 38 Ford Mustang for Viking Motorsports and RSS Racing.

Before this weekend’s event at the 2.66-mile superspeedway, DiBenedetto had only recorded two prior top-10 finishes in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, both of which came during a stint with Joe Gibbs Racing in 2010, the best of which was a ninth-place result at Iowa Speedway.

“I’m super pumped for Viking Motorsports and this group to get a top-10, that’s awesome for them, they deserve it,” DiBenedetto said after the race. “They’ve worked their tails off. Kevin [Johnson] my crew chief and the whole group, Roush-Yates, Ford, had a good engine, just made the most of it.”

In order to bring home the top-10 finish, DiBenedetto had to strategically place his Ford Mustang in the lead pack, after sustaining minor damage in a pair of multi-car accidents that unfolded during the race’s final stage, first on Lap 67, then again on Lap 113.

“Had to play it smart, got in a couple of little minor wrecks and got some damage, so we didn’t have any speed to lead lanes or do anything like that, we couldn’t be the aggressor,” DiBenedetto explained. “I just kind of had to wedge it up in the middle, and my spotter Doug [Campbell] helped me to just make good, solid decisions to cram ourselves in there and pick off spots each restart, and it worked out.”

Next weekend’s Bet Rivers 200 at Dover Motor Speedway marks the fifth race of the initial five-race agreement between Viking Motorsports and Matt DiBenedetto, although the driver remains confident that the pairing will continue much further than next weekend.

“I think we’re going to chat with the team more, but it looks like we want to, especially now because we’re building some good points, keep running a lot of races and building up the points for the No. 38 car. The team’s really all-in and wants to build for 2025, as well. I’m just happy to be part of the program, and hopefully, it’s a lot of races, or most of the races this year.”

So, could Viking Motorsports end up being a permanent home for DiBenedetto, even into next season?

“Absolutely,” DiBenedetto exclaimed. “I’m happy to be here and help build and grow this team, and I’m just thankful to see Don and the whole group, they’re very committed. This Viking Motorsports group is a newer team, but seeing their commitment, their passion for the sport, how all-in they are, those are qualities you look for in a team and people.”

“As long as we’re all one mind, and working towards the same goal, you know, little victories, growing the team and making it better doesn’t happen overnight and we’re already making big strides with this team and growing, with top-20s and top-10s, just building a step at a time.”

Heading to Dover Motor Speedway this weekend, DiBenedetto will look to use the momentum gained from Talladega on Saturday to post another solid result, and further bolster the owner point position of the No. 38.

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