Box Score Info:
RACE: NASCAR Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series; Gander RV 400
TRACK: Dover International Speedway
DRIVER: Matt DiBenedetto
CAR: No. 95 FDNY Foundation Toyota Camry
POINTS POSITION: 166 total points for the season; currently 25th in the driver point standings
NASCAR made it’s first visit of the season to Dover, Delaware this weekend as the sport’s top-three series raced at the concrete one-mile track known as “The Monster Mile.” With the new aero package teams in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series have been running this year, teams were once again uncertain how the package would play out at a track where cars were already incredibly fast in the past. Rain showers in the area on Sunday forced NASCAR to postpone the event until Monday afternoon, but Matt DiBenedetto and his No. 95 FDNY Foundation Camry started from 17th and fought handling being stuck back in dirty air to finish 20th despite running several top-five lap times throughout the race.
Monday’s Gander RV 400 took the green flag at 12:08 p.m. EST to begin the 400-lap event at “The Monster Mile.” DiBenedetto took the green flag in 15th after several cars were forced to drop to the rear of the field prior to the start of the event. During the opening laps of the race, DiBenedetto told his teal that the No. 95 FDNY Foundation Camry was “really edgy on landing as the pressures build up.” DiBenedetto was able to maintain his top-20 positioning despite the fact that his No. 95 machine was also “tight in traffic and dirty air.”
A competition caution came following lap 40 due to Sunday’s rain showers, and crew chief Mike Wheeler called for four tires, fuel, as well as air pressure and trackbar adjustments on the team’s first stop of the day. Unfortunately, the team was tagged with a pit road penalty for a crew member being over the wall too soon that found the FDNY Foundation Camry fall back into 25th for the restart.
The race returned to green to begin lap 46, and as the run went on, DiBenedetto told his team “the dirty air is awful and that in clean air, the car is still loose and edgy.” The No. 95 improved to 22nd before a caution came at lap 105 that allowed the team to make another round of adjustments targeted at helping to improve handling. The race returned to green to begin lap 111 with DiBenedetto in 21st, but as Stage 1 came to an end, the driver told his team ‘its just not possible to pass on new tires.”
Stage 2 took the green to begin lap 130 with the FDNY Foundation Camry lined up in 15th. Running in cleaner air to start the run, DiBenedetto told his team that the No. 95 Camry was “a little tight at the two-thirds part of the corner.” Despite the handling challenges due to the aero, the FDNY Foundation Camry was posting top-five lap times despite being trapped in it’s positioning on the track. Green-flag pit stops started to cycle through the field starting around lap 181 and Wheeler called his driver down pit road for service on lap 186.
Stage 2 concluded with DiBenedetto scored in 20th and a lap down to the race leaders as the team discussed handling and any possible adjustments to make on their pit stop. The FDNY Foundation Camry hit pit road on lap 245 for four tires and fuel before the race began Stage 3 to start lap 250. DiBenedetto continued to run in 20th as he battled tightness from the dirty air he was stuck in on the track being unable to pass for positions. On lap 304, he told his team “it’s too tight to make any other lane work other than the bottom” and as the long green-flag run went on he also added that the No. 95 machine was “too tight center and off.”
DiBenedetto dipped back to 23rd on lap 340, but by lap 351, he was back in 20th and that’s where his FDNY Foundation Camry would cross the line when the checkered flag appeared.
Martin Truex, Jr. drove away victorious at “The Monster Mile” on Monday afternoon while Alex Bowman, Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick, and Chase Elliott rounded out the top-five finishers.
2019 No. 95 Season Summary:
Starts - 11
Wins - 0
Top 5's - 0
Top 10's - 0
Poles - 0
Digital Ally 400
Kansas Speedway (1.5-mile)
Kansas City, KS
Saturday, May 11, 2019