RACE: NASCAR Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series; Toyota / Save Mart 350
TRACK: Sonoma Raceway
DRIVER: Matt DiBenedetto
CAR: No. 95 Procore Thanks DW Throwback Toyota Camry
- Following a weekend off from competition, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams returned to action for the series' first road-course event of the season. The weekend also marked the final race for the season with FOX television coverage, and the last race that Hall of Fame driver Darrell Waltrip would call from the broadcast booth. Waltrip started his career in the series driving the No. 95 entry, and as a tribute to the man who has given so much to the sport, the No. 95 Camry ran a special throwback paint scheme celebrating Waltrip. Matt DiBenedetto grew up not far from Sonoma Raceway in Grass Valley, California and considers the course his home track. After showing speed during practice on Friday, DiBenedetto started Sunday's race from 19th, but the team knew they had a strong long-run car and they came up with a strategy to help gain positions from the drop of the green. The team worked hard all afternoon to maximize opportunities, and in the end, DiBenedetto drove away with a fourth-place finish and his best career result in the series.
- Sunday's Toyota / Save Mart 350 took the green flag at 12:17 p.m. PST as the field roared to life on the 2.52-mile course full of challenging left and right-handed turns. On the opening lap of the race, DiBenedetto was able to drive his No. 95 Procore Thanks DW Throwback Toyota Camry up to 16th. On lap 10, he radioed into crew chief Mike Wheeler that the car was "a little tight in the right-handers and tight in Turn 10." DiBenedetto told his team that they needed to move the trackbar up when they made their first stop of the afternoon.
- Wheeler called his driver down pit road for service on lap 16 for four tires, fuel, along with trackbar and air pressure adjustments as the team used the opportunity to pit right before the end of Stage 1. The flags came out to signal the end of Stage 1 following lap 20 with the No. 95 scored in 23rd at the time, but the team's plan was to stay out under the caution and start up towards the front of the field. The strategy played out and DiBenedetto lined up in sixth for the restart to begin Stage 2 as the field too the green to begin lap 25.
- The Procore Camry took over fifth on lap 29 and DiBenedetto focused on the course and maintaining his top-five positioning. As the run went on, DiBenedetto told his team that he needed a more of the same adjustments when they made their next stop. With Stage 2 approaching its conclusion following Lap 40, Wheeler once again made the call to hit pit road at the end of the stage so that they could stay out under the caution. On lap 37, the Procore Camry came in for four tires, fuel, and another round of adjustments, ending the stage in 17th.
- Stage 3 took the green flag to begin lap 45 with DiBenedetto and his Procore Camry once again lined up in sixth for the restart. As the run went on, DiBenedetto told his team that he continued to fight some tight-handling conditions, but he maintained his positioning on the track.
- Green-flag pit stops began to cycle starting on lap 60 and Wheeler called his driver in for service on lap 65 for a four-tire stop. The Procore Camry cycled back into 12th following the stop, but DiBenedetto started to make up ground on the field from that point on. At lap 70, DiBenedetto broke back into the top-10, and on lap 77, he passed the No. 6 to take over sixth. Lap 80 found DiBenedetto passing the No. 48 for fifth, and on lap 86 the Procore Camry powered past the No. 4 to take over fourth. DiBenedetto was able to hold onto his positioning in the final laps of the event and drove away with a top-five finish.
- Martin Truex, Jr. dominated Sunday's race as he led for 59 laps Sunday at Sonoma claiming his fourth victory of the season and his second consecutive win at the road course. Truex Jr's teammate, Kyle Busch, finished second, while Ryan Blaney, DiBenedetto, and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top-five finishers. DiBenedetto's fourth-place finish was his career-best finish in the series and his first career top-five run.
2019 No. 95 Season Summary:
Starts - 16
Wins - 0
Top 5's - 1
Top 10's - 1
Poles - 0
Camping World 400
Chicagoland Speedway (1.5-mile)
Sunday, June 30, 2019