Box Score Info:
RACE: NASCAR Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series; Camping World 400
TRACK: Chicagoland Speedway
DRIVER: Matt DiBenedetto
CAR: No. 95 Procore Toyota Camry
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams traveled to “The Windy City” for the 17th points events of the season as they made their yearly visit to Chicagoland Speedway. Teams had a condensed weekend schedule with two practice sessions followed by an impound qualifying session on Saturday before Sunday’s race. DiBenedetto started Sunday’s 267-lap event from 29th but fought handling and track position throughout the race after an untimely caution trapped the team a lap down to end Stage 1 and a loose wheel forced an unscheduled pit stop later in the event. Despite the challenges, the team worked hard to make adjustments to their Procore Camry and fought for track position whenever possible, but DiBenedetto ended Sunday’s event scored in 27th.
With the threat of approaching storms, Sunday’s Camping World 400 took the green flag at 2:04 p.m. CST as teams kept an eye on weather radar reports. DiBenedetto took the green from 29th, and following the opening five laps of competition, told crew chief Mike Wheeler and team that the Procore Camry was “extremely tight up top and I can’t run up there.” DiBenedetto went on to say a few laps later “it gets tight and slides the nose if I run anywhere else.” Right after that feedback, the caution came out due to lightning in the area and the field was brought down pit road as the red flag was then displayed after just 11 completed laps. The race was red-flagged for over three hours as a strong band of storms brought heavy winds and rain over the track.
Drivers returned to their cars and the field returned to yellow-flag conditions and Wheeler called his driver down pit road for four tires, fuel, as well as wedge and air pressure adjustments in an effort to help with the tight-handling. The race returned to green to begin lap 17 with DiBenedetto in 26th after teams had opted for varying pit strategies to resume the event. DiBenedetto once again found that the only line he was able to run was the bottom as the tight-handling continued from the restart, but as the run went on, he told his team on lap 37 “it’s starting to get better and I can start moving around.”
By lap 48, the Procore Camry had driven into 22nd as cars who hadn’t opted to pit when the race resumed, began to cycle through pit stops. Lap 53 found DiBenedetto telling his team that the No. 95 Camry was better on the long run even though it was still just a bit too tight. By lap 71, the Procore Camry took over 15th, and as Stage 1 wound down, Wheeler called his driver in for service on lap 77 so that the team could pit before the end of the stage. DiBenedetto had a four-tire stop with adjustments to the Procore Camry, but right after the team left pit road, the caution came out for the No. 14 and it ended the stage earlier than planned, which meant that DiBenedetto was trapped a lap down.
The team opted to stay out under the caution and Stage 2 began with the Procore Camry lined up in 21st and one lap down to the race leaders. DiBenedetto knew that he had to fight hard to get into the lucky dog position, but the Procore Camry continued to be “too tight on take-off.” The team kept working on their No. 95 machine, but on lap 149 DiBenedetto radioed in saying that he suddenly felt a vibration and that the next time by it had gotten worse. Forced to hit pit road out of sequence, the Procore Camry came in for service on lap 151 for a four-tire stop as the team looked over all the tires later determining that it must have been a loose wheel that suddenly caused the vibration. DiBenedetto ended Stage 2 in 29th and two laps down at the time.
Stage 3 took the green to begin lap 167, but an early caution following the restart didn’t help the team to get a lap back since they had to pit for another round of adjustments on lap 174. DiBenedetto worked to try and make up track position, but the long green-flag run didn’t help to gain back laps even though he was running fast lap times. Green-flag pit stops began to cycle through the field starting around lap 217 as Wheeler told his driver to run until he felt the car begin to run out of fuel.
The Procore Camry got up to 23rd on lap 229, and just ten laps later, DiBenedetto told his team that it was time for him to come in for service. Following a four-tire stop, DiBenedetto cycled back into 27th, which is where he ended up spending the remainder of the event.
Alex Bowman drove away with the win on Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway as he claimed his first career victory in the series. Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson, and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top-five finishers at the Joliet, Illinois track while DiBenedetto crossed the line in 27th with his Procore Toyota Camry.
2019 No. 95 Season Summary:
Starts - 17
Wins - 0
Top 5's - 1
Top 10's - 1
Poles - 0
Coke Zero Sugar 400
Daytona International Speedway (2.5-mile)
Daytona Beach, FL
Saturday, July 6, 2019