Matt DiBenedetto wasn’t pleased with how his day ended, not of his own doing at Texas Motor Speedway. Former Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski explained how he’d like to see a system in place for NASCAR to demote a driver from the series if necessary.
On lap 306 of the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500, rookie Quin Houff attempted to get to pit road from the second lane in Turns 3 and 4. Houff became coming down the track and collided with both Christopher Bell and DiBenedetto before spinning and wrecking off the corner.
Houff posted a video on Twitter admitting he made a mistake and said he was called to pit road too late. Houff also said his side mirror had previously come off, and he couldn’t see those on his inside.
DiBenedetto finished 17th after contending inside the top 10.
Keselowski, the 2012 Cup Series champion, was asked about the incident post-race. He admitted there are two ways to look at the situation, and for those who like entertainment and a chaotic finish since the caution resulted in more restarts, then “that was good.”
However, Keselowski continued, “I think on the other side of that there’s the, ‘Hey, I’m a professional race car driver that’s worked my entire career to get here. Had to jump through a lot of hoops to make it and would like to think that those efforts have created a spot for me in this series to be joined with peers of similar talent levels.’ I have nothing personal against anyone that has an issue like that because they do happen from time to time, but there are certainly a handful of drivers that I wonder exactly how they got to this level.
“Part of it plays into all the rules. When you’ve got this rules package with cars that are super-easy to drive by themselves, it’s very hard for NASCAR, I think, to be able to tell who’s got it and who doesn’t. So, it kind of puts them in a box until you actually get in a race.
“But one thing I would like to see, and I think I’ve been pretty consistent with this, is I would like to see drivers be able to graduate into this level and equally I’d like to see them be able to be removed from this level when they have repeated issues. I can’t speak enough to the gentleman (Houff) that had that issue today, but I have seen in the past where drivers that have had this issue multiple times somehow are still here, where I think they should effectively be placed in a lower series or asked to go back to a more minor league level to prove their salt.
“But that’s ultimately not my decision to make. It’s what I would like to see, but it’s not my decision to make, and until it is, I guess I should probably just shut up, but I certainly think there’s some merit to it.”
StarCom Racing hired the 22-year-old Houff after he made 17 starts in the Cup Series last season. Houff replaced veteran Landon Cassill.
Houff has five DNFs this season, including his 34th-place finish at Texas. His best finish this season is a 23rd-place effort at Indianapolis.