Box Score Info:
RACE: NASCAR Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series; Consumers Energy 400
TRACK: Michigan International Speedway
DRIVER: Matt DiBenedetto
CAR: No. 95 Toyota Express Maintenance Toyota Camry
- NASCAR’s top series returned to the Irish Hills of Michigan for their second visit to Michigan International Speedway of the season for Sunday’s Consumers Energy 400. Matt DiBenedetto and his No. 95 Toyota Express Maintenance team had been challenged by the track back in June as Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams experienced how the 2019 rules package affected cars' handling at the two-mile track. The team fought similar handling issues during Sunday’s race once more, but they were able to finish within the top-20 as they kept working on adjustments and pit strategies in order to gain track position throughout the afternoon and stretch fuel mileage until the end.
- Sunday’s Consumers Energy 400 at Michigan International Speedway took the green at 3:18 p.m. EST as Matt DiBenedetto and his No. 95 Toyota Express Maintenance Camry started from 27th. The first stage of the race was 60 laps, and despite improving to 23rd on the opening laps, DiBenedetto radioed in early on to crew chief Mike Wheeler that the No. 95 was tight to start. The team discussing trying to run varying lines around the two-mile track in an effort to see if that might help with the handling, but DiBenedetto told his team “it just gets tight when I try to run up top.”
- As the opening stage of the race went on, the No. 95 Camry continued to challenge the team as DiBenedetto further discussed the fact that his Camry was “freeing up” as he ran and was getting “edgier” as well. On lap 39, as he was running in 23rd, DiBenedetto told the team “my biggest problem is when I try to move up, I can’t complete the corner.” Wheeler and the team came up with a game plan to help their driver as green-flag stops began to cycle starting around lap 42.
- Wheeler called his driver down pit road on lap 44 for right-side tires, fuel, and an air pressure adjustment as teams continued to cycle through pit stops before Stage 1 ended. By lap 56, DiBenedetto told the team that the No. 95 Camry was “tight taking off” and also said that the car needed to “be freer on exit.” Stage 1 ended following lap 60 with the Toyota Express Maintenance Camry scored in 23rd as the team made a four-tire stop under the caution.
- The race returned to green to begin Stage 2 at lap 67 with DiBenedetto in 23rd, and on the restart lap, he drove the No. 95 Camry up to 16th and was able to maintain his top-20 positioning until lap 79. On lap 81, DiBenedetto told the team that his racecar was “turning better but is just edgy now.” The loose handling continued throughout Stage 2 as DiBenedetto told the team on lap 93 “I’m kind of hanging on right now and I’m just not sure how to string it all together.”
- The team made a fuel-only stop on lap 113 in a play to help gain track position, but the caution came out on lap 115 and so the team opted to pit again, but this time for four tires, fuel, and adjustments under the yellow flag. The race returned to green to begin lap 120 as the race then went back under caution the next time by to end Stage 2 with DiBenedetto scored in 17th. Under the caution, DiBenedetto told his team that he had felt a vibration on the restart, so in order to be safe, the team hit pit road for a four-tire stop before the race returned to green to begin Stage 3.
- The final stage of the race found the team continuing to battle handling in their Toyota Express Maintenance Camry, but they kept working at it. The team was able to improve to 14th during Stage 3, DiBenedetto eventually got shuffled back to 20th by lap 155, and despite dipping back into 23rd on lap 165, the team improved to 20th as they were able to stretch their fuel mileage as a few contenders ran out of fuel in the final laps.
- Kevin Harvick claimed the win Sunday afternoon at Michigan earning his second win of the season. Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, Martin Truex, Jr., and Daniel Suarez rounded out the top-five finishers at Michigan while DiBenedetto and his No. 95 Toyota Express Maintenance team were scored in 20th.
2019 No. 95 Season Summary:
Top 5’s: 2
Top 10’s: 4
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