Matt DiBenedetto virtually pulled off a miracle win at Bristol Motor Speedway Saturday night time, and although he fell simply quick, followers cheered his each transfer and his fellow drivers showered him with reward after the race.
The 28-year-old driver completed a career-best second, as Denny Hamlin handed him with 12 laps remaining and held on for the victory. That efficiency got here simply days after DiBenedetto realized he wouldn’t return to the Leavine Household Racing No. 95 staff subsequent season. That stunning information comes at a time when DiBenedetto is racing higher than ever. He has now posted 5 top-10s and three top-five finishes in his final 9 races for a staff that trails the game’s marquee groups when it comes to funding and previous historical past.
If DiBenedetto had managed to tug off the upset Saturday night time, it will have been one of many nice Cinderella tales in NASCAR historical past. But although he fell simply wanting his first profession victory, he made an enormous impression on everybody on the half-mile monitor. Followers cheered him loudly in pre-race introductions and in the course of the occasion, as he led a race-high 93 of 500 laps.
And afterward, fellow drivers voiced their approval. DiBenedetto shared a touching second with Hamlin in victory lane.
Hamlin nearly apologized to DiBenedetto in his first remarks after successful the race.
“I am so sorry to Matt DiBenedetto, (crew chief) Mike Wheeler,” Hamlin informed NBCSN. “I hate it. I know a win would mean a lot to that team … I’m just sorry.”
“We tried. We gave it everything we had,” DiBenedetto mentioned. “I hope I’ve gotten it together enough the last few minutes. I wanted it so bad.”
After the race, a number of different drivers, together with Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney and Clint Bowyer, stopped by to supply DiBenedetto their congratulations.
Throughout driver introductions, DiBenedetto got here out to the theme from “Rocky,” sporting boxing gloves and a gown embroidered with the phrases “Italian Stallion.” DiBenedetto, who has Italian heritage, says he had really deliberate to put on the outfit finally 12 months’s August Bristol race, but it surely was an ideal match for his underdog standing Saturday night time.
“That was cool, a cool intro, and fitting I guess for my story that fans have embraced so much,” DiBenedetto mentioned. “That was amazing. When I got out of the car and fans are screaming and cheering for us, I lost it. I couldn’t even hold it together.”