Matt DiBenedetto: ‘Crazy’ to be making 200th Cup Series start
In his sixth season on the Cup Series stage, Matt DiBenedetto will hit a notable career mark today with the race at Dover International Speedway (4 p.m. ET on NBCSN).
The Wood Brothers Racing driver, who will roll off the grid in 14th, will make his 200th Cup Series start.
The 29-year-old California native will be the 135th different driver to make 200 or more starts in the Cup Series.
“It’s cool that this weekend is my 200th start,” DiBenedetto said in a press release. “That’s crazy to think. “
DiBenedetto reaches the mark after he made his debut in the series on March 15, 2015 at Phoenix Raceway. That day he drove the No. 83 for the now defunct BK Racing.
“It was a crazy time because the team wasn’t planning on running me at that race until last second, so we didn’t have a full crew or anything,” DiBenedetto said. “But it was neat how willing everyone was to work hard and get me out there.”
He started and finished 35th, placing ahead of Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr., who each wrecked out of the event.
“I remember making my first Cup start at Phoenix and just being appreciative for being there and accomplishing the first part of my dream which was making it to the Cup Series,” DiBenedetto said. “Now it’s fast forward to this season having a dream opportunity driving the 21 car and competing up front.”
DiBenedetto enters his 24th race as driver of the Wood Brother’s No. 21 Ford. His best result for the team is second at Las Vegas. He’s already earned more top fives (two) and top 10s (seven) than Paul Menard earned in the No. 21 last year.
This will be DiBenedetto’s 11th start at Dover. His best result was in last year’s fall race when he placed seventh while driving for Leavine Family Racing.
In the nine races before today’s event, DiBenedetto has four finishes of seventh or better and five finishes of 15th or worse.
DiBenedetto is still seeking his first Cup win. Were it to come today, it would be a historic victory on multiple levels.
DiBenedetto would be able to boast that he earned Wood Brothers Racing its 100th Cup win. The team has been stuck on 99 since Ryan Blaney won at Pocono in 2017.
He would also claim the 700th Cup Series victory for the Ford Motor Company. Kevin Harvick earned Ford its 698th and 699th wins when he swept the doubleheader weekend at Michigan.
Ford’s 699 victories are second only to Chevrolet’s 790. Toyota has 149 (sixth all-time).