Box Score Info:
RACE: NASCAR Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series; Big Machine Vodka 400
TRACK: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
DRIVER: Matt DiBenedetto
CAR: No. 95 Horizon Transport Toyota Camry
- With one final race left in the regular season, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams traveled to the historic 2.5-mile track of Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Sunday’s Big Machine Vodka 400. In a unique schedule for the series, teams qualified on Sunday morning prior to the afternoon’s race. Matt DiBenedetto and his No. 95 Horizon Transport Toyota Camry posted the 26th-fastest time once the field had made their single-car laps around the 2.5-mile track, and then cars were impounded until the race later that afternoon. DiBenedetto sustained damage during the race’s first caution of the day from contact in a multi-car incident on pit road, and the team was left fighting handling for the rest of the afternoon. Despite the aerodynamic challenges from the damage, the team worked their way to as high as 10th before finally finishing the day out in 18th.
- The field took the green flag at 2:08 p.m. EST to begin the 160-lap event at the historic "Brickyard" of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Stage 1 was scheduled for 50 laps, and shortly after the green flag, DiBenedetto radioed into crew chief Mike Wheeler that his No. 95 Camry was "a little tight off." The first caution of the afternoon came early on lap 12 as the team discussed some adjustments that might help their Horizon Transport Toyota Camry. As the field was coming down pit road however, the No. 43 came to a stop suddenly the sent numerous cars colliding into one another, including the No.95. DiBenedetto made his way to the team’s pit stall for a four-tire stop with adjustments, but the right front nose of the Camry had heavy damage from the contact.
- The race returned to green to begin lap 16 with DiBenedetto lined up in 25th. Shortly after returning to green, he told his team that the Horizon Transport Camry was "bouncy tight" from the damage, and by lap 32, the report was that the Camry was "not driving well" and was "on edge" at the time. A caution at lap 41 allowed Wheeler to bring his driver back down pit road in order to give the team more time to assess the damage and work on repairs.
- With just a handful of laps remaining in Stage 1, the race returned to green to begin lap 47 with the Horizon Transport Camry in 26th after some cars had opted to stay out. With one lap remaining in Stage 1, the No. 20 and No. 2 cars brought out the caution and eventual red flag as officials were forced to replace tire barriers following two hard impacts by the drivers into the walls. Stage 1 ended under a caution, and once the red flag was lifted, pit road was opened for service where Wheeler once again opted for a four-tire stop with several adjustments.
- Stage 2 began on lap 57 with DiBenedetto in 26th. Over the course of the run he told his team how the No. 95 was "out-of-the-track loose" and how "something aero-wise feels off." Green-flag stops were cycling through the field when DiBenedetto was told to bring the Horizon Transport Toyota in for service on lap 86. Immediately after the team’s stop, a caution came out due to the No. 18, and DiBenedetto got stuck a lap down to the race leaders. Under the caution, Wheeler told his driver that they had noticed that the tape on the nose from the repair work earlier was starting to come off and that was why he was part of the reason why the Camry was losing rear downforce.
- The race returned to green to begin lap 96, but on the restart lap, the caution came out for debris. The timely caution meant that DiBenedetto was the lucky dog and the team was able to get their Horizon Transport Toyota Camry back on the lead lap. The team continued to make adjustments and work on repairs in order to try and help their driver make up track position. DiBenedetto was able to avoid further damage when a multi-car incident occurred in Turn 2 collecting six cars, and his evasive driving allowed DiBenedetto to restart in 15th when the race returned to green on lap 112.
- Loose handling continued to challenge the team as the race went on. A restart to begin lap 140 found the No. 95 lined up in 12th and DiBenedetto was able to gain two spots on the restart lap to take over 10th. A late-race caution found the team deciding to hit pit road for four tires and fuel with just 13 laps remaining in the event. The race returned to green to start lap 152 with DiBenedetto in 15th, but when the checkered flag waved, the No. 95 Horizon Transport Toyota Camry crossed the line in 18th.
- Kevin Harvick drove to the victory Sunday at Indianapolis after leading for a dominating 118 laps. Joey Logano, Bubba Wallace, William Byron, and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top-five finishers at The Brickyard in the series’ final race of the regular season. Following Sunday’s race, the 2019 Playoffs field is set as the series will begin the 10-race Championship run starting next weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
2019 No. 95 Season Summary:
Starts - 26
Wins - 0
Top 5’s - 3
Top 10’s - 6
Poles - 0
South Point 400
Las Vegas Motor Speedway (1.5-mile)
Las Vegas, NV
Sunday, September 15, 2019