By Justin Schuoler, Staff Writer
KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Half a second.
A bullet travels over 1,300 feet. A human blinks. A fastball is pitched. A honeybee flaps its wings over a hundred times.
All of that can happen in half a second.
That’s all that Matt DiBenedetto needed to advance into the Round of 8 at Kansas Speedway when the checkered flag waved.
Two late restarts and a perfect opportunity at the end was all the hope Rackley W.A.R. needed to advance into the next round after Matt Crafton and Ben Rhodes faced major issues earlier in the race.
They were short by a mere five points.
“I’ve kind of have a lot of mixed emotions right now,” DiBenedetto shared his third-place result.
Their elimination wasn’t due to a lack of effort. A troublesome race at The Milwaukee Mile saw a massive uphill battle coming to the last race of the first round of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series playoffs. Kansas played into his crew chief’s plans perfectly as Chad Kendrick prepared to put his driver in position at the end of the race.
“I’m proud of the finish,” DiBenedetto continued. “The effort and the solid truck and the solid race and just all of the effort of my team, so proud of that.”
The final restart was a green-white-checkered finish within regulation but had all the overtime action. The leaders spent nearly the next three miles three wide, banging doors and a wild Zane Smith sideways through Turns 3 and 4 before Christian Eckes gassed away to the finish line first. DiBenedetto had a bird’s eye view and did what he could to charge from seventh on the final restart.
“It was crazy,” he laughed. “I was honestly hoping they’d all wreck each other, and I just go by on the bottom. They were wrecking every lap, really. They just somehow made it through the corner. So it was exciting as far as Truck Series is unbelievably good. It’s so good.
“The racing is crazy. I love it, but that was an exciting finish. We had a shot at it when they were all three wide right in front of me for the lead and we’re next in line. You know, anything can happen and we could have cruised on by. So we had a shot at the win and I’m proud of that. We really executed on the restarts.
“We had a plan when we were very calculated in our decisions and moves, and it paid off. So proud of that and solid day.”
Last month, it was announced that this would be his last season driving the No. 25 Chevrolet Silverado, and there was no news about his 2024 plans in NASCAR.
“I don’t have anything locked down, so it’s been a roller coaster to be honest with you,” he explained. “Some things totally haven’t panned out as I had thought or hope. So I don’t know. I’m just kind of sitting on the outside in now.”
He still holds his head high with lots of positives. Over the last two years, he has given Rackley W.A.R. their first career NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series win, their first Playoffs berth and a dedicated fan base.
“I’ve just got to be grateful for getting to drive in circles for a living. Grateful for Rackley Roofing believing in me and giving me this opportunity.”
A bittersweet day for the Nashville team holds one goal for the remaining four races.
“All we can do is just go try and win them now.”