DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – For some Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series organizations in the garage, it is a miracle to place in the top-15 in at least one of the 36 races on the schedule. But Saturday night’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway put a lot of small teams in position to finish strong.
The restrictor plate race under the lights was filled with chaos in the first half of the event, which was quite a surprise to many. By the end of the second stage, two massive wrecks had already taken place taking championship contenders like Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, and others out of the event.
But the chaos and carnage that filled the first half of the race led to new faces finishing the event in the front that we don’t usually see. Both JTG-Daugherty Racing Chevrolet’s earned top-five finishes, Ty Dillon received his first top-10 of his career, and Canadian born D.J. Kennington brought the Gaunt Brothers Racing Toyota home in the 13th position.
One driver that finished in the top-10 with a torn-up race car was Matt DiBenedetto. The Californian placed seventh and earned his first top-10 of the season.
Despite the damage his race car suffered, DiBenedetto was satisfied that they were able to earn a top-10 after the race.
“It was okay especially considering the damage on every corner of it. Yeah, the Fords always run really good at Speedways so that’s why we always seem to find ourselves up front at the end, so Fords and Roush Yates engines are the best so we’re glad to have them.” DiBenedetto told POPULAR SPEED.
Dibenedetto put himself in contention at the end of the event, but they just didn’t have enough to get an inch on the leaders.
“Um no, that was about all we had there,” DiBenedetto said. “We restarted on the bottom at the end and the bottom is a little tough to get going and we just kind of stalled out where we. You know those cars up front had some pretty good speed and we kind of ended up about where we should’ve. I would like to win but you know one day.”
He may very well win one day.
In fact, it is not the first time Dibenedetto has been under the spotlight. Back in 2016, while racing for BK Racing, he placed sixth at Bristol earning his first top-10 of his career.
The 26-year-old has proven he has talent behind the wheel. Going into Kentucky with momentum, it would not be a surprise to see their race team improve as the season winds down.
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