Matt DiBenedetto is determined to make the most of what he views as the best opportunity he’s had in the NASCAR Cup Series.
“We’ll go out of the gate fast and go win some races,” DiBenedetto confidently of his Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 Ford Mustang team.
DiBenedetto made that proud statement earlier this week during a media availability at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He did so while sitting beside his three Team Penske alliance teammates Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, and Ryan Blaney.
Later asked to expand upon his answer, DiBenedetto’s confidence didn’t waver. Wood Brothers Racing team can “100 percent” be a fourth contender alongside the Penske trio.
“It’s been neat coming in and getting to know this team, how they operate, our alliance with Team Penske and everything, so I’ve just been getting educated,” said DiBenedetto. “And to see just how much experience there is on our 21 team alone, these guys have been around a long time, so they’re really, really good guys. I’ve watched the pit crew guys and then the support in race cars that we get from Team Penske, our relationship, the competition meetings, and how all that is structured, it’s going to be neat to get going.
“I’d say we all have the same plans and expectations to go out there and all be performing up front, and all be winning races. That’s the goal within the organization.”
The Wood Brothers have 99 wins in the NASCAR Cup Series. Blaney was the last driver to take the team to victory lane when he earned his first career win in 2017 at Pocono, and he demonstrated the ability of the team to contend on the level of Penske.
DiBenedetto is driven to do the same as he continues to prove his worth. Taking over the car from Paul Menard, the opportunity for DiBenedetto to be its next driver came at the suggestion of Menard.
Each year has seen DiBenedetto take another step forward. With five full seasons under his belt, DiBenedetto has improved his position in the points each season. In 2019 he had a career year with triple-digit laps led (152) and the chance to win his first race in an inspired performance at Bristol just days after learning he wouldn’t return to Leavine Family Racing.
Next comes not winning some races, but putting his car in the playoffs — another thing DiBenedetto is “100 percent” confident he can do.
“I expect no less,” he said. “I expect that and then keep on digging. I live for this stuff, and I’m a competitive guy. You’ve got to have confidence and having this good of a team around you gives me all the confidence in the world to go right out of the gate and work my tail off and give them 110 percent, because they’re going to do it for me as well. I feel like every year, we’re going to go out and turn some heads. I’ve done it every step of the way.”