Box Score Info:
RACE: NASCAR Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series; Hollywood Casino 400
TRACK: Kansas Speedway
DRIVER: Matt DiBenedetto
CAR: No. 95 Toyota Express Maintenance Toyota Camry
- NASCAR traveled to Kansas Speedway for this weekend’s race as the 2019 Playoffs continued. Teams competed at the 1.5-mile track back in May but were eager to apply what they’ve learned with this year’s rules package for their return visit at a track that has become known for some exciting restarts. Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams had two practice sessions on Friday before qualifying on Saturday. Matt DiBenedetto and his No. 95 Toyota Express Maintenance team focused on race trim during practice since Saturday’s qualifying was an impound session. After starting the race from 27th, DiBenedetto and his team worked on fine-tuning the handling of his No. 95 machine throughout Sunday’s race and were able to earn a top-15 finish despite a few challenges throughout the afternoon.
- Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 took the green flag at 1:49 p.m. CST to begin the final race of The Round of 12. DiBenedetto and his No. 95 Toyota Express Maintenance Camry started the race from 27th and drove up to 19th on the opening run as he told his team “it’s a little free, but much better than yesterday.” Green-flag pit stops began to cycle through the field starting at lap 40 and crew chief Mike Wheeler called his driver down pit road on lap 43 for four tires, fuel, and an air pressure adjustment. As Stage 1 continued, DiBenedetto improved to 16th before the race’s first caution of the day came at lap 75. Once again, the No. 95 came down pit road for four tires and fuel before the race returned to green with just two laps remaining in the opening stage. The Toyota Express Maintenance Camry ended Stage 1 in 17th, and since the team had pit just a few laps before the end of the stage, they stayed out under the caution.
- Stage 2 took the green flag to begin lap 87 with DiBenedetto in 13th. On lap 98, he told the team “it’s a little tight on exit, but it feels like it could spin out.” A caution on lap 116 let the team perform another four-tire stop for their Toyota Express Maintenance Camry and DiBenedetto lined up in 15th for the restart. At lap 128, DiBenedetto called in over the team radio “it’s way too tight off all of a sudden,” and by lap 140, DiBenedetto said “it’s really bad off of (Turn) 4 now.” As the team tried to determine why the handling had suddenly changed, Wheeler told his driver that they could see a bit of damage to the right-front nose of their No. 95 machine.
- Stage 2 ended following lap 160, and under the caution the team serviced their Camry with four tires and fuel before they worked on fixing the nose. Stage 3 took the green flag to begin lap 167 with DiBenedetto lined up in 24th at the time. By lap 179, the Toyota Express Maintenance Camry was running 20th but was lacking grip according to DiBenedetto. Another round of green-flag pit stops began to cycle at lap 210 and Wheeler called his driver in for a four-tire stop on lap 217.
- DiBenedetto cycled back into 16th following the green-flag stops, but two late-race cautions set up an Overtime finish at Kansas. A caution came out during the first Overtime attempt before the leader took the white flag, so the field restarted once again at lap 276 for the final green-white-checkered attempt.
- Denny Hamlin earned the victory on Sunday at Kansas as he punched his ticket into the Round of 8 earning his fifth win of the season in the process. Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, and William Byron rounded out the top-five finishers while DiBenedetto finished 15th with his No. 95 Toyota Express Maintenance Camry.
2019 No. 95 Season Summary:
Starts - 32
Wins - 0
Top 5's - 3
Top 10's - 7
Poles - 0
First Data 500
Martinsville Speedway (0.526-mile)
Sunday, October 27, 2019