Ricky Benton Racing is going to make the jump into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series this season.
The team will attempt the season-opening Daytona 500 on Feb. 18. David Gilliland (above, in 2016) will be the driver in the No. 92 Black’s Tire and Auto Service/CARQUEST Auto Parts Ford.
For the past eight seasons, Benton has made a name for his organization in the Camping World Truck Series. The No. 92 truck has run a part-time schedule since 2010 with various drivers. The team’s plans for this year in the CWTS have not been finalized, however, the team said Mike Hester will serve as the crew chief in both the CWTS as well as the for the Daytona 500.
“After talking with our partners, we felt the time was right to make a move into the Cup Series,” said team owner Ricky Benton. “Getting David back on board was also key. Having a veteran driver with his experience and success on restrictor-plate tracks – with whom Hester has familiarity – gives us a leg up as we try to make the race.
“I am thankful for Roush Yates [Engines], CARQUEST, Highland Construction and the entire Black’s Tire family for going racing with us.”
Gilliland has a history with the Benton team, having driven for RBR in 2015 in the CWTS. If Gilliland makes the Daytona 500, it will his first Cup Series race since 2016. In 332 career starts, Gilliland has three poles, eight top 10 and four top-five finishes.
“Ricky is a great guy and a real racer,” said Gilliland. “I really appreciate the faith he has put in me to drive his first MENCS attempt. Having worked with Mike [Hester] before, I know he has done everything needed to give us a competitive car to go out and qualify and race well at Daytona. I think we have a chance to go out and surprise some people.”
Qualifying for the 60th annual Daytona 500 is Sunday, Feb. 11.