Matt DiBenedetto’s time with Wood Brothers Racing is drawing to a close, and the Grass Valley native has made known his frustration with the situation in a 9 minute video clip released via his Facebook account on Thursday.
The seven-year NASCAR Cup Series veteran has revealed he’ll be a free agent again at the end of the season after learning that Xfinity Series driver Harrison Burton will drive the Wood Brothers No. 21 Mustang in 2022, and not him.
“It doesn’t change my faith knowing that there is a plan for it all, but that doesn’t make it suck, because it sucks,” DiBenedetto said in the video.
This season is DiBenedetto’s second with Wood Brothers Racing.
“As a team owner, you always want to keep an eye on the future and what’s best for your organization in the hopes of setting yourself up for long-term success,” said Eddie Wood, co-owner of Wood Brothers, in a statement. Press release. “As things have progressed and changed over the past few months we have had a chance to consider what our options are and when we determined that Harrison would be available for our team we wanted to jump on the line. opportunity to work with him. “
Burton, 20, is a promising player in the sport who has won four Xfinity Series races in 2020 and notched 12 top-10s in 19 races this season. Burton is the son of former NASCAR Cup Series driver Jeff Burton.
In DiBenedetto’s video, he said the No.21 team have been “snapped” for much of the season, but after a few changes they are now in a good position.
“It sucks because we finally have the chemistry and the team where it needs to be,” he said. “I’m like ‘yes we have it, it’s clicked, it’s there, and I know it took too long, but we got it’, and, boom, the performance is on the right track. way. Now I really feel like we are a team that can go out and win, compete and fight up front… ”
DiBenedetto’s season has been a bit of a roller coaster. Season highs were reached in the spring with a fifth-place finish at the Talladega Superspeedway on April 25, followed by a fourth-place finish at Kansas Speedway on May 2. But there were a lot of downs along the way. DiBenedetto has finished 20th or worse eight times this year, down from just five top-10s.
He’s been more consistent lately, showing strong performances in his last three races, placing 10th on July 4 at Road America, ninth on July 11 at Atlanta Motor Speedway and 11th on Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
“Your biggest regret in life will be wasting time,” said DiBenedetto. “Time is the one thing in life that you can’t get back, and you know what? That’s what bites me a little right now. We’ve wasted time and I’m going to take some of it, it’s not just one specific person, I’m not blaming anyone. But we left our team broken for too long.
DiBenedetto added that although he is frustrated with the decision, he still sees the Wood brothers as family.
“My request would be not to hit the Wood brothers,” he said in the opening of the video. “They are part of my family and always will be. “
Just over a season ago, DiBenedetto earned his spot among the top 16 drivers and made his first NASCAR Cup Series playoff. And, DiBenedetto’s popularity among NASCAR enthusiasts is undeniable, as the 29-year-old was added to the 2021 NASCAR All-Star Race through fan voting.
This season, DiBenedetto is currently 17th overall in points with four races to go before the playoffs.
This is not the first time that DiBenedetto has faced an uncertain future. He left Go Fas Racing in 2018 and landed with Leavine Family Racing in 2019. When there was no seat for him at Leavine after this season, he found a place with Wood Brothers Racing in 2020, replacing the retired Paul Menard.
DiBenedetto said he is still determined to end the season strong and secure his very first Cup Series victory.
“There is still a lot of season left and the positives are: we have our team on the right track, so we can get high…” he said. “And, I desperately want to get the 100th win for the Wood Brothers. … They are, and always will be, a family to me, and I’m super grateful for the opportunity and super grateful that we have a good chunk of the season to go out there and kick ass.
“Through all the heartaches, all the frustrations and all the obstacles, all the madness … I don’t care, I’m going to get over it all.” I will, and we will, win. I am convinced that we are in the best position to go there and do it finally and my future will be full of it and we will be successful. “
The next stop for DiBenedetto and the rest of the NASCAR Cup Series is Go Bowling at the Glen at Watkins Glen International on August 8th.
SWEET PLACES 5TH, 9TH AT THE KINGS ROYAL RACES
The World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series held a pair of “crown jewel” races on Saturday as the drivers entered two Kings Royal races of $ 175,000.
Brad Sweet of Grass Valley didn’t win the jackpot in any of the main races, but clinched a fifth and ninth place finish, bringing him a total of $ 15,500 for the day’s work.
Due to a confluence of events, the 37th and 38th Kings Royal races were both held on Saturday at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.
In the 37th Kings Royal, Sweet started fourth and finished fifth. Kyle Larson, an Elk Grove native and Sweet’s brother-in-law, won first place and the check for $ 175,000 in this race.
In the 38th Kings Royal, Sweet started fourth and quickly moved forward where he traded the lead with eventual winner Tyler Courtney. Sweet’s bid for a third career Kings Royal win would be doomed by a cut rear tire that sent him into the pits for a replacement with around 20 laps to go. Sweet would settle for ninth place.
Sweet, the defending champion and two-time overall series champion, remains at the top of the 2021 points race and leads all drivers in total wins this season with 13.
Next up for Sweet is the Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup, which takes place today at Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, PA.
To contact sports editor Walter Ford, email [email protected]