LAS VEGAS – Dodging crashes over the last few restarts of the Victoria’s Voice 200, Matt DiBenedetto wrestles a seventh place result at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“That was hard work and a big team effort,” DiBenedetto stated after the race. “I learned a lot, so it was really good.”
In his first career start at the 1.5-mile oval, his result marks his second top 10 finish in his first two races in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with a tenth at the season opener at Daytona International Speedway. He holds two second place finishes at Las Vegas in the NASCAR Cup Series, but regardless of never racing a truck before, he holds his head high as he fights on through the regular season.
“I led us in the wrong direction leading into the race because there are some major differences in this and the Cup 550 (horsepower) package I wasn’t anticipating,” he compared from his competition in the Cup car. “So I needed a little more grip than I thought, and less trim in the race. Then we rebounded and got back up there and got some of that speed back. If we can finish seventh when I feel like I do a bad job, I think when I do a good job with how strong I’m really seeing that this team is and can be the more we work together, I’m super encouraged.”
Despite being a sophomore team, early signs point to Rackley W.A.R. being a strong contender for the Playoffs later this year in the fall. DiBenedetto still knows there are a few hurdles to jump and challenges to alleviate.
“I really learned some big things that I’ll be able to take into the rest of the year. I learned a lot about this kind of racing, the dirty air with the trucks, some just some little differences like that. When we all do a good job, we’re going to have trucks that I really feel can compete for wins, and that’s cool for a small team that’s only in their sophomore year here to have that encouragement.
“It’s cool that we got a 10th and then a seventh to start the year, and that’s just with us not even scratching the surface.”
DiBenedetto is no stranger to posting his racing stories on social media. Every Friday night shows his view from the television watching the trucks race during their schedule. Even his comments proved his enthusiasm about the competitive nature of the field. Now that he’s had a chance to become a part of that action, he gave some insight into the insanity while sharing.
“Truck racing, in my opinion, is the most exciting to watch,” continued DiBenedetto. “I’ve always looked forward to watching the truck races, if I’m being totally honest, more than any series just because it’s insane. But now I get to be a part of it on the racetrack, and TV doesn’t even do it justice. It’s absolutely insane on restarts and everything.”
A guide is much-needed in moments like that, and DiBenedetto makes no hesitation to credit those around him that help them get the results they do.
“We had some near misses, but my spotter Doug (Campbell) did an excellent job. I’m really lucky to have him. He’s a huge help and navigated us a little bit through some insanely close calls. Our pit crew was great, and that’s everything with track position being so big. I’m proud of the pit crew for what they did tonight, they really deserve a ton of credit – those guys never get enough credit.”
Spotter Doug Campbell guided young Austin Cindric to a Daytona 500 win a couple weekends ago. Campbell also spotted for DiBenedetto when he raced last year for Wood Brothers Racing in the Cup series. While victory lane has eluded him so far, he feels it is closer than ever before.
“We told him now that he’s victorious, it’s our turn to do it together,” he said with a chuckle.
For DiBenedetto, victory lane is no question his short-term goal. Ultimately, he wants to get into position to compete for the Playoffs, the Final Four and perhaps, the crown.
“It’s going to be a fun year.”
UPDATE: Matt DiBenedetto officially finishes in the sixth position after Zane Smith, who originally finished second, was disqualified for violating Section 14.16.1 of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series rule book. Smith will officially finish 36th with one championship point.