Box Score Info:
RACE: NASCAR Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series; Bojangles' Southern 500
TRACK: Darlington Raceway
DRIVER: Matt DiBenedetto
CAR: No. 95 IMSA GTO Throwback Toyota Camry
- NASCAR's top series once again celebrated Labor Day weekend in style celebrating the sport's throwback weekend at historic Darlington Raceway. For the last several years, teams have chosen to feature throwback paint schemes aboard their race cars, and for Matt DiBenedetto and his No. 95 team, they chose to run a scheme honoring the 1986-1988 championship-winning IMSA GTO program colors which became an iconic scheme for Toyota in American motorsports. DiBenedetto started the race at Darlington from 19th, and as the team continued to make adjustments to their No. 95 Camry as conditions changed throughout the night, they were able to finish eighth earning their sixth top-10 run of the season during their strong summer stretch.
- After a four-hour rain delay Sunday evening, the Bojangles' Southern 500 took the green flag at 10:07 p.m. EST to start the 367-lap event at Darlington. DiBenedetto started the race from 19th in his No. 95 IMSA GTO Throwback Toyota Camry to begin the opening 100-lap first stage of the race. During the opening run, DiBenedetto told crew chief Mike Wheeler that his Camry was tight-handling and that the “dirty air is horrible.” Due to the rain earlier in the evening, NASCAR called for a competition caution following lap 35, and as the team prepared for their first stop of the night, DiBenedetto reported “I just need more rotation off the right rear.”
- Wheeler called for four tires, fuel, as well as wedge and air pressure adjustments and DiBenedetto lined up in 19th for the restart to begin lap 41. As the laps went on, DiBenedetto continued to run within the top-20 but told his team over the radio “I'm not even sure what to tell you about the car because of the dirty air.” At a track that is narrow and difficult to pass, the team knew that they had to continue to try and make whatever adjustments they could to help their driver fight for positions. A caution at lap 68 allowed the team to pit for another four-tire stop, and DiBenedetto was able to gain several positions to end Stage 1 in 15th even though he told the team that the No. 95 had been lacking a bit of grip.??
- Stage 2 took the green flag on lap 107, and by lap 119, DiBenedetto told his team “it's too tight in traffic.” A caution at lap 141 found Wheeler bringing his driver down pit road for another round of adjustments to both wedge and air pressure. The race returned to green with the IMSA GTO Throwback Camry in 17th as DiBenedetto told the team on lap 157 “I feel like I need three times that last adjustment because the track is getting tighter.” The team continued to make wedge and air pressure adjustments as the final laps of Stage 2 ended under caution with DiBenedetto in 14th.??
- Stage 3 took the green flag to begin the final segment of the race at lap 207 with the No. 95 IMSA GTO Throwback Toyota Camry in 14th. DiBenedetto was able to jump up to 11th on the restart lap before settling back into 12th as he told his team on lap 225 “I still need a little more of that last adjustment.” Green-flag stops started to cycle through the field around lap 248 and Wheeler called his driver in for service on lap 259 for a four-tire stop. A multi-car wreck brought out the caution on lap 275 as DiBenedetto told his team “I'm still tight grabbing the gas in Turn 4.” The team pit on lap 277 for four tires, fuel, and an air pressure adjustment to help free up their No. 95 Camry a bit more. ??
- The race returned to green to begin lap 282 with DiBenedetto in seventh, but now that the No. 95 was up in cleaner air later in the race, DiBenedetto told the team he was fighting a bit of loose-handling by lap 311. One more round of green-flag stops cycled through the field and Wheeler brought his driver in on lap 320 for four tires and fuel as DiBenedetto continued to run seventh at the time.??
- Erik Jones won the 70th annual Bojangles' Southern 500 in the early hours of Monday morning earning his first win of the 2019 season at the historic track. Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top-five finishers while DiBenedetto crossed the line in eighth earning his sixth top-10 finish of the season in the process.
2019 No. 95 Season Summary:
Starts - 25
Wins - 0
Top 5's - 3
Top 10's - 6
Poles - 0
Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard
Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2.5-mile)
Sunday, September 8, 2019