Box Score Info:
RACE: NASCAR Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series; Auto Club 400
TRACK: Auto Club Speedway
DRIVER: Matt DiBenedetto
CAR: No. 95 Procore Toyota Camry
POINTS POSITION: 76 total points for the season; currently 24th in the driver point standings
NASCAR’s west coast swing entered its third and final weekend as the Monster Energy NASCAR Series traveled to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. For Matt DiBenedetto and his No. 95 team, the track holds a special place for the organization due to the fact that Procore is headquartered just a short drive away from the track, and several members of the team are originally from the state of California. This weekend’s race was another important one in regard to NASCAR’s new rule package for the season, but an interesting qualifying session on Friday found many curious as to how Sunday’s race would play out. DiBenedetto and his team got held up during their qualifying run and found themselves starting from 24th. The No. 95 machine fought tight-handling conditions throughout Sunday’s 200-lap event, but DiBenedetto and his team fought hard to make sure that they remained on the lead lap. In the end, the Procore Camry earned an 18th-place finish in Fontana.
Sunday’s Auto Club 400 took the green flag at 12:51 p.m. PST with DiBenedetto lined up in 24th. Auto Club Speedway is known for being a track with lots of room and sweeping corners where drivers have several lane options in which they can run. On the opening lap, DiBenedetto drove up to 20th before settling back into 22nd as the run went on. During the opening run of the race, DiBenedetto told crew chief Mike Wheeler that the No. 95 was tight off in traffic to the point where “I can’t turn on exit to complete the corners.”
Green-flag pit stops began to cycle around lap 27 and Wheeler called his driver down pit road on lap 30 for four tires, fuel, and a wedge adjustment. Following the stop, DiBenedetto told his team that the adjustments had helped. A caution at lap 56 allowed the team to get a bit more detailed feedback from their driver as he told them that the Procore Camry had “started the run a bit free, but then starts to get tight as the run goes on.” Under the caution, the team serviced the car with another four-tire stop, and the No. 95 lined up in 19th for the restart.
Stage 1 came to an end after the No. 17 spun in Turn 2 and DiBenedetto was able to avoid contact from the chain reaction ahead of him. Worried though that he had perhaps locked up his tires, the team hit pit road for four fresh Goodyears under the caution before the race returned to green to begin lap 69 with DiBenedetto in 16th. Stage 2 found more of the same for the Procore Camry as the tightness in dirty air continued. Another round of green-flag pit stops took place starting on lap 90, and Wheeler brought his driver in for service on lap 92 for a four-tire stop with adjustments.
Stage 2 ended following lap 120 with DiBenedetto in 20th at the time as he told his team that the No. 95 continued to start the runs loose, but then eventually tightened up as the runs went on. After a four-tire stop under the caution, Stage 3 began with lap 128 with the Procore Camry in 16th. As the run went on, DiBenedetto settled into 18th, which is where he would eventually end up crossing the line Sunday when the checkered flag appeared.
Kyle Busch drove off with the victory on Sunday afternoon at Auto Club Speedway win a win that marked his 200th career win across all three of NASCAR’s top three series. Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, and Ryan Blaney rounded out the top-five finishers at the California track as the series will now return to the east coast for next weekend’s event at Martinsville Speedway.
2019 No. 95 Season Summary:
Starts - 5
Wins - 0
Top 5’s - 0
Top 10’s - 0
Poles - 0
Martinsville Speedway (0.526-mile)
Sunday, March 24th, 2019