Sunday, July 13, 2014

N’WIDE: Matt DiBenedetto Pulls In Early To Relieve Earnhardt at Loudon

SOURCE: Mike Neff, Frontstretch
Matt DiBenedetto picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR Nationwide Series career in Saturday’s Sta-Green 200 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway when his unsponsored #46 The Motorsports Group Chevrolet fell out with brake problems after he completed 1 of the race’s 200 laps.

The finish is DiBendetto’s second of the 2014 season and his first since Kentucky, two races ago.

Forty-one teams were on the entry list for Saturday’s race, but after Carl Long lost the engine on his #13, the team withdrew, and the remainder of the field made the race.  After running 27th in the first practice and 33rd in Happy Hour, DiBenedetto timed in 26th for the race at an average speed of 125.182 mph.  Though fifth-fastest of the eleven “go-or-go-homers” who entered and two spots ahead of teammate Josh Wise in TMG’s #40, DiBenedetto was not only slated to park his entry, but was sought as a relief driver.

Prior to last Friday’s race at Daytona, Jeffrey Earnhardt, driver of JD Motorsports’ #4 Chevrolet, broke his collarbone in a motorcycle accident.  DiBenedetto, who failed to make the show in the rain-shortened qualifying session, relieved Earnhardt and brought the car home 33rd.  At Loudon, with a car in the field, DiBenedetto pulled out almost immediately after just one lap, allowing him to relieve Earnhardt again after an early caution.  This time, DiBenedetto brought the #4 home in 23rd.

Blake Koch, still the leader by three finishes in the 2014 LASTCAR Nationwide Series Championship, fell out three laps later, just as Trevor Bayne’s spin in Turn 2 brought out the first yellow of the afternoon.  DiBenedetto’s teammate Josh Wise lost the clutch and stopped the #40 on the apron of the backstretch, bringing out the second yellow flag.  Rounding out the Bottom Five were Harrison Rhodes, giving James Carter’s #72 team its second start of the season, and Iowa last-placer Ryan Ellis in his first start for JGL Racing.

*This is the first last-place finish for the #46 in a Nationwide Series race at New Hampshire.

40) #46-Matt DiBenedetto / 1 lap / brakes
39) #10-Blake Koch / 4 laps / vibration
38) #40-Josh Wise / 9 laps / clutch
37) #72-Harrison Rhodes / 22 laps / brakes
36) #93-Ryan Ellis / 62 laps / transmission

1st) Blake Koch (6)
2nd) Jeff Green (3)
3rd) Matt DiBenedetto (2)
4th) Tanner Berryhill, Ryan Ellis, Kevin Lepage, Robert Richardson, Jr., Tim Schendel, Jimmy Weller (1)

1st) #10-TriStar Motorsports (7)
2nd) #46-The Motorsports Group (3)
3rd) #91-TriStar Motorsports (2)
4th) #17-Vision Racing, #23-R3 Motorsports, #55-VIVA Motorsports / SS Green Light Racing, #87-Rick Ware Racing, #93-JGL Racing (1)

1st) Toyota (9)
2nd) Chevrolet (6)
3rd) Dodge (2)

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