Sunday, March 20, 2016

XFINITY: Matt DiBenedetto parks for TriStar in XFINITY Series return

SOURCE:Rubbin's Racin' Forums
Matt DiBenedetto picked up the 3rd last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s 300 by Janssen at the Auto Club Speedway of Southern California when his unsponsored #10 TriStar Motorsports Toyota lost its brakes after 2 of 150 laps.

The finish, which came in DiBendedetto’s 50th series start, was his first of the year and his first since July 12, 2014, when his unsponsored #46 The Motorsports Group Chevrolet fell out with brake issues after 1 lap of the Sta-Green 200 at New Hampshire, 54 races ago.

In exchange for a few start-and-park efforts, including Loudon, DiBenedetto took the controls of Curtis Key’s primary #40 Chevrolet and turned in a few impressive runs late in the 2014 season, including an 11th at Road America and 13th in Mid-Ohio.  Driver and team parted ways at over the offseason, and both eyed a first-time Cup effort.  While Key’s The Motorsports Group struggled to only two starts, DiBenedetto put together a respectable rookie season with BK Racing with an 18th at Talladega his best of 33 starts.  Fresh off his first Daytona 500 start, where a crash left him last, DiBenedetto is now attempting his first full Cup season.

Fontana marked DiBenedetto’s first start in the XFINITY Series since he left TMG.  This time, he would again be called upon for “start-and-park” duties, replacing Jeff Green, the preliminary entry of the #10 Toyota.  Like Green has in many of his starts, DiBenedetto did not participate in the opening practice, and he turned in the 36th-best time in Happy Hour on Friday.  The car improved in qualifying, earning the 30th spot after a single lap of 171.686 mph.

Missing the race were Carl Long in Motorsports Business Management’s #13 Dodge and Morgan Shepherd, handed his first DNQ since last year’s Homestead finale.  Withdrawn was Todd Peck’s second B.J. McLeod entry, and for the second-straight week, Peck and his X-treme pH Sports Water sponsorship would run on Rick Ware’s #15 Ford.

DiBenedetto pulled behind the wall under green after completing just two laps.  16 circuits later, fellow Cup regular Josh Wise exited with a vibration on his #40 Toyota, MBM’s other entry.  Finishing 38th was David Starr, whose recent string of bad lick in the #44 Zachry Toyota continued with an engine failure that drew the second caution of the race.  37th-place Ray Black, Jr. found himself in a harmless spin off Turn 4, but a flat tire dug in the nose of his #07 ScubaLife / Chevrolet, and the damage left him with his worst finish of the young season.  Rounding out the Bottom Five in 36th was Dylan Lupton, whose second RSS Racing entry #93 cited crash damage.

DiBenedetto went on to start 33rd in Sunday’s Cup race and finish 27th, his second-best effort of the year behind a 20th-place showing last Sunday at Phoenix.

*Despite the driver change, TriStar Motorsports continues a streak of four consecutive last-place finishes in the 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Season, all of which with the #10 Toyota.  It’s also TriStar’s third last-place finish in a row in this event.

40) #10-Matt DiBenedetto / 2 laps / brakes
39) #40-Josh Wise / 18 laps / vibration / led 1 lap
38) #44-David Starr / 30 laps / engine
37) #07-Ray Black, Jr. / 44 laps / crash
36) #93-Dylan Lupton / 56 laps / crash

1st) Jeff Green (3)
2nd) Matt DiBenedetto, Ryan Preece (1)

1st) TriStar Motorsports (4)
2nd) JD Motorsports (1)

1st) Toyota (4)
2nd) Chevrolet (1)

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