Box Score Info:
RACE: NASCAR Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series; First Data 500
TRACK: Martinsville Speedway
DRIVER: Matt DiBenedetto
CAR: No. 95 Toyota Express Maintenance Toyota Camry
- With the series’ last visit to a half-mile short track on the 2019 circuit for Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams, Matt DiBenedetto and his No. 95 Toyota Express Maintenance team knew that having patience would be a key to surviving Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway. Teams had two practice sessions on Saturday before qualifying later that afternoon and the team was happy with the overall performance of their No. 95 Camry during the sessions. DiBenedetto started from 12th to begin Sunday’s race, and despite dealing with some handling conditions that changed as the race went on, the team spent the entire race running in the top-20. Contact from a multi-car incident late in the race damaged the left front of DiBenedetto’s No. 95 and changed the handling from that point on. Despite the damaged race car, the team was able to keep their car in the race and DiBenedetto finished 16th at Martinsville.
- The First Data 500 took the green flag at Martinsville at 3:16 p.m. EST as “The Half Mile of Mayhem” roared to life. DiBenedetto started from 12th and told his team early in the opening run that his No. 95 Toyota Camry was a “little tight to take off but is starting to come around now.” The race’s first caution came at lap 29 for debris and DiBenedetto used the break in action to provide a little more feedback to crew chief Mike Wheeler as he said, “it just isn’t rotating.” Wheeler called his driver down pit road for four tires, fuel, and an air pressure adjustment on lap 30 and the race returned to green to begin lap 35.
- Following the adjustments, DiBenedetto was running within the top-15 and told his team “it’s better but we probably need a little more of that” as he also discussed the fact that his Toyota Express Maintenance Camry was still tight and he was having a hard time getting it pointed where he needed it to on the track. Stage 1 ended following lap 130 and the team worked on a game plan for another round of adjustments targeted at helping the No. 95 turn better by freeing it up. Four tires, fuel, wedge, and air pressure adjustments were made and DiBenedetto lined up in 15th for the restart to begin Stage 2.
- Once again, following the adjustments, DiBenedetto told his team that the changes had helped but he said that the No. 95 machine needed to be freed up even more. A caution at lap 178 allowed the team to continue to work on their Camry as DiBenedetto lined up in 13th for the restart on lap 185. Stage 2 ended as DiBenedetto told the team “on the long run I get a little free in, but the tight in the center also holds me up.”
- Stage 3 took the green flag to begin lap 269 with the Toyota Express Maintenance Camry in 15th, but as Stage 3 went on, DiBenedetto started to experience a handling change in his race car as track conditions began to change as the sun set. DiBenedetto told his team that the No. 95 was just “too loose” and that he needed help getting more right-rear grip in his race car. The team continued to work on air pressure and wedge adjustments throughout the race but contact between the No. 18 and the No. 10 on lap 360 set off a chain reaction where DiBenedetto got contact from the No 47 into the left-front of his car. The No. 95 team immediately went to work on their damaged Camry and they were able to quickly patch up what they could without losing any laps in the process.
- DiBenedetto restarted in 18th following the damage but without his left-front fender, the handling in the No. 95 went tight as the laps went on. The team continued to make adjustments during late-race cautions, but the tight-handling due to the damage found DiBenedetto unable to improve his positioning beyond 15th as the race wound down. In the end, DiBenedetto crossed the line in 16th and on the lead lap Sunday evening in Martinsville.
- Martin Truex, Jr. dominated Sunday’s First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway after he led for 464 laps. The win is Truex, Jr.’s seventh of the season and punched his ticket into the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway as well. William Byron, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, and Ryan Blaney rounded out the top-five finishers on Sunday while DiBenedetto scored a top-20 run finishing 16th with his No. 95 Toyota Express Maintenance Camry.
2019 No. 95 Season Summary:
Starts - 33
Wins - 0
Top 5's - 3
Top 10's - 7
Poles - 0
AAA Texas 500
Texas Motor Speedway (1.5-mile)
Fort Worth, TX
Sunday, November 3, 2019