DiBenedetto Earns Career-Best Runner-Up Finish at Bristol After Leading 93 Laps Saturday Night
Aug 17, 2019
Box Score Info:
:  NASCAR Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series; Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race
TRACK:  Bristol Motor Speedway
DRIVER:  Matt DiBenedetto
CAR:  No. 95 Toyota Express Maintenance Toyota Camry
START: 7th
LAPS:  500/500
Post-Race Highlights:
  • Matt DiBenedetto and his No. 95 Toyota Express Maintenance team love short-track racing and have had race weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway circled on their schedule since their first visit to the half-mile track earlier this season.  The team showed speed during both practice sessions on Friday as they finished fourth and first respectively in the sessions and then went on to qualify seventh for Saturday’s race.  Even with some loose-handling conditions throughout the race, DiBenedetto remained within the top-12 all night and lead for a total of 93 laps until ultimately crossing the line in second.  The runner-up finish is DiBenedetto’s career-best in the series after he had previously set a career-best run finishing fourth at Sonoma back in June. 
  • Saturday night’s 500-lap event at Bristol took the green flag at 7:50 p.m. EST as the field roared to life at the high-banked half-mile track known as “The Last Great Colosseum” on the circuit.  The No. 95 Toyota Maintenance Camry started from seventh and quickly improved to fourth in the opening stage.  DiBenedetto told crew chief Mike Wheeler and the team that his Camry was a “little loose to take off” which was a good thing, and as his No. 95 came in during the run, on lap 59 he told his team “it’s starting to tighten up now as the track is tightening up.”
  • The first caution of the night came at lap 81 and DiBenedetto asked his team to help free up their Camry.  Wheeler made the call for four tires, fuel, and an air pressure adjustment under the yellow flag, and DiBenedetto lined up in fourth for the restart to begin lap 88. The Toyota Express Maintenance Camry continued to run within the top five as Stage 1 went on as the track started to tighten.
  • As Stage 1 neared conclusion, DiBenedetto told his team that his No. 95 Camry was “losing a little grip” on lap 121 and as the stage ended following lap 125, the team hit pit road for another round of adjustments on their stop.  Stage 2 took the green flag to start lap 135 with DiBenedetto in fifth, but as the race went on, the No. 95 continued to be loose as the driver told his team that he still needed help with more rear grip.  A caution on lap 190 found the team make a wedge adjustment to help with the changing track conditions as the evening went on.  A caution near the end of the stage came at lap 244 and Wheeler called his driver in for a four-tire stop.
  •  Stage 2 ended following lap 250 with DiBenedetto in 12th with his Toyota Express Maintenance Camry as the team stayed out under the yellow since they had just hit pit road for service five laps earlier.  Stage 3 took the green to begin lap 260 with DiBenedetto in seventh for the restart.  As he continued to experience loose-handling conditions in his No. 95 Camry, DiBenedetto improved to sixth on lap 360 and then cracked his way back into the top-five on lap 371.
  • A multi-car wreck brought out the caution at lap 374 and DiBenedetto lined up in fourth for the restart at lap 388.  The strong restart found DiBenedetto take over second on the restart lap, and on lap 396, he chased down the leader for the top stop assuming the lead.  DiBenedetto continued to show the way as the laps wound down at Bristol as the team helped him navigate lapped traffic ahead.  With just under 30 laps remaining in the event, DiBenedetto lost time as he got held up fighting to get around the No. 6 car at the time and the No. 95 sustained damage to the left-front nose after contact from Ryan Newman. 
  • The contact to the No. 95 affected the Camry’s handling in the final stretch of the race, and with 11 laps remaining, DiBenedetto was challenged by Denny Hamlin who drove to the inside and made the pass for the lead.  Hamlin went on to win Saturday’s race beating DiBenedetto to the line by 0.502 seconds.
  • Hamlin won Saturday’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol claiming his fourth win of the season.  DiBenedetto finished second as the driver’s runner-up finish is a career-best run in the series.  Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, and Chase Elliott rounded out the top-five finishers Saturday night at Bristol.  With his finish, DiBenedetto improved to 22nd in the driver point standings as the series will now take a weekend off from competition. 
2019 No. 95 Season Summary:
Starts: 24
Wins: 0
Top 5’s: 3
Top 10’s: 5
Poles: 0
Bojangles’ Southern 500
Darlington Raceway (1.366-mile)
Darlington, SC
Sunday, September 1, 2019