Matt DiBenedetto was 0.009 seconds slower than Aric Almirola in the first round of qualification at Richmond International Raceway and became the first driver to fail to advance to the top 24 and second round of time trial. He will start the Federated Auto Parts 400 in 25th.
Matt DiBenedetto has earned only two top-30s in five previous starts on two-mile tracks. That came this spring in Auto Club Speedway; his best finish at Michigan International Speedway was 30th in last year’s Pure Michigan 400.
Matt DiBenedetto was easily the best dark horse at Bristol this spring. He stayed in contact with the lead lap all afternoon, took a Wave Around with about 100 laps remaining, and steadily worked his way to sixth after starting 30th.
An accident and engine damage at Talladega SuperSpeedway this May reversed a positive trend for Matt DiBenedetto. Up till that point, he had been running at the end of every unrestricted race. Since then, he has sustained some damage in seven of 12 races and blew an engine in another event.
Matt DiBenedetto will make his fourth Pocono Raceway start this week, and he has been uneven in the first three attempts. He finished 32nd last spring, 29th last summer, and was 40th this spring.
With less than one minute remaining in the second round of qualification for the New Hampshire 301, it appeared Matt DiBenedetto would advance to the final session. He was knocked out by a few drivers at the end of round two, but posted the 16th-fastest time of 132.683 mph.
Matt DiBenedetto has made five starts on restrictor-plate, superspeedways at the Cup level and has had problems in four of those events. He suffered crash damage in the 2015 Geico 500 at Talladega SuperSpeedway, had fuel problems later that fall, crashed at Daytona International Speedway this spring, and blew an engine at Talladega in May.
A strong start to the 2016 season for Matt DiBenedetto abruptly turned bad following a crash in May’s Geico 500 at Talladega SuperSpeedway. He suffered an engine failure later in that event and his luck changed dramatically. He has suffered some damage in all but one of his last six attempts.
Matt DiBenedetto has made two starts at Michigan International Speedway and has not yet cracked the top 25, but he has improved in every outing. If he qualifies in the top 30 this weekend, his personal trend could continue.
Matt DiBenedetto scored a dramatic top-10 at Bristol Motor Speedway this April, but his fortunes took a turn for the worse after that. His last three attempts this year ended in crash damage.
Matt DiBenedetto’s best finish on the similarly-configured, 1.5-mile tracks came at Kansas last May. In the SpongeBob SquarePants 400, he started 35th and finished 25th.
An emotional Matt DiBenedetto was almost in tears following his sixth-place finish in the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. He started the day 30th, but remained on the lead lap all afternoon in route to his upset.
Matt DiBenedetto has an average loss of 0.4 positions per race in the first five events this season, but that is not representative of how he has run. In his last four attempts, he has finished better than he started each time.
Matt DiBenedetto is coming off his career-best unrestricted track finish. He was 20th last week at Phoenix International Raceway in the Good Sam 500.