Box Score Info:
RACE: NASCAR Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series; South Point 400
TRACK: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
DRIVER: Matt DiBenedetto
CAR: No. 95 Barstool Sports Toyota Camry
- NASCAR's top series traveled to Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend to begin the 10-race Playoffs to crown the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion. With temperatures in the 100's, teams were challenged with handling throughout the weekend as they prepared for Sunday's race. Matt DiBenedetto and his No. 95 team had a new partner aboard their Toyota Camry for the weekend thanks to Barstool Sports, and the team was hopeful to build upon their first visit to the 1.5-mile track they had made back in March. After qualifying from 25th, DiBenedetto and his team worked on their Camry's handling throughout the race as the No. 95 experienced both loose and tight-handling conditions. Late in the race, the team rolled the dice stretching their green-flag run after the majority of the field had hit pit road for green-flag pit stops, and while they led for nine laps, the gamble didn't pay off after a caution never came and their Barstool Sports Camry didn't take off as well following their stop. DiBenedetto left Las Vegas with a 21st-place finish Sunday night despite running higher than that for the majority of the day.
- Sunday's South Point 400 took the green at 4:20 p.m. PST as DiBenedetto rolled off from 25th. Stage 1 was scheduled for 80 laps, and within the open ten laps of the race, DiBenedetto radioed into crew chief Mike Wheeler that the Barstool Sports Toyota Camry was loose and needed more right-rear grip. The team opted to hit pit road on lap 38 for a green-flag stop for four tires, fuel, and an air pressure adjustment. Despite the air pressure change, Stage 1 ended with DiBenedetto in 21st and still experiencing loose-handling conditions.
- During the caution following the end of the opening stage, the pit crew serviced the Barstool Sports Camry with another four-tire stop, but this time pulled packer and made a wedge adjustment along with another round of the air pressure changes. When the race returned to green to begin Stage 2, DiBenedetto was lined up in 21st for the restart. The adjustments seemed to help the Barstool Sports Camry as DiBenedetto was able to improve to 16th by lap 121. The No. 95 was “a bit tight on exit” as DiBenedetto told his team that he was losing some of the turn on exit, but that the grip of his Camry was good at the time.
- A series of green-flag pit stops began to cycle, and Wheeler called his driver in for service on lap 123 for another four-tire stop. Shortly after the stop, DiBenedetto told the team “the car's pretty close” as Stage 2 came to an end following lap 160. Scored in 18th at the time, DiBenedetto said that he was still lacking some grip in his Barstool Sports Camry and the team made another round of adjustments under the caution. DiBenedetto went on to report that “wedge in helped, but then it got tight off and was a little slick on exit.”
- Stage 3 took the green flag to begin lap 168 with DiBenedetto lined up in 16th for the final stage of the race. An incident on lap 188 involving the No. 1 brought out the caution and the Barstool Sports Camry lined up in 11th for the restart. Handling challenges crept back in following the restart, and on lap 207, DiBenedetto reported “it's too tight for me to be able to complete the corner and move around.” Limited by where he could run on the track in order to try and improve his positioning, he settled into 16th as one final round of green-flag stops began.
- The team decided to take a gamble and stretch their run as the field cycled through their final stops of the evening hoping that perhaps a caution might fall their way. On lap 233, DiBenedetto was in third, and on lap 238, he assumed the lead and led for a total of nine laps before Wheeler called him in for right-side tires and fuel on lap 247. With just under 20 laps remaining in the race once the Barstool Sports Camry had cycled through its stop, DiBenedetto was running 22nd and improved one position before the checkered flag to finish 21st, despite having a car that had run higher than that positioning for most of the night.
- Martin Truex, Jr. opened his Playoffs run nabbing his fifth win of the season as he drove away with the victory Sunday at Las Vegas. Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott, and Ryan Blaney rounded out the top-five finishers Sunday while DiBenedetto finished 21st with his No. 95 Barstool Sports Toyota Camry.
2019 No. 95 Season Summary:
Starts - 27
Wins - 0
Top 5's - 3
Top 10's - 6
Poles - 0
Federated Auto Parts 400
Richmond Raceway (0.75-mile)
Saturday, September 21, 2019