Sunday, April 17, 2016

XFINITY: Matt DiBenedetto last on Saturday, scores a career-best 6th on Sunday

SOURE: Rubbin's Racin' Forums
Matt DiBenedetto picked up the 4th last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 at the Bristol Motor Speedway when his unsponsored #10 TriStar Motorsports Toyota fell out with a vibration after he completed 4 of 200 laps.

This was DiBenedetto’s second last-place finish of 2016, his first since Fontana, two races ago.  TriStar has now finished last in four of the previous five XFINITY races at Bristol, and its #10 has finished 40th in all five of its starts in 2016.

DiBenedetto did not participate in Friday’s opening practice session, but put up the 27th-best time in Happy Hour.  He ranked 23rd-fastest in qualifying later that day, having made the second round with the 21st-fastest time of 122.961 mph.  Both he and Texas last-placer Josh Wise, back in RSS Racing’s #93 Chevrolet, did not complete a lap in Qualifying Round 2.  Regardless, both outpaced the two drivers sent home: Morgan Shepherd, who missed his third-straight race in his #89 Racing With Jesus Chevrolet, and the Carl Long in the #40 Dodge for Motorsports Business Management.

For the first time, heat races would set the grid for Saturday’s 200-lapper, and DiBenedetto’s speed put him 12th on the 20-car grid for Heat 1.  Starting last in the race was Mike Harmon in his unsponsored black #74 Dodge.  DiBenedetto fell to the rear before the green flag, however, and pulled off the track after three laps.  Wise, who also rolled off 12th in Heat 2, also parked after 9 laps of his race, taking the spot from the trailing Derrike Cope in his #70 E-Hydrate at Ingles / To The Point Apparel Chevrolet.  This put DiBenedetto and Wise in the 20th and final row for the 200-lap main event with Wise credited with the 40th starting spot.

As in Heat Race 1, DiBenedetto took last on the first lap and pulled onto pit road.  The leaderboard indicated that he then came out to run one more circuit before he parked for good with four laps in the books.  Wise followed after 21 laps, citing transmission issues, securing the 39th spot.  38th went to DiBenedetto’s teammate J.J. Yeley in his identical unsponsored #14 Toyota.  37th was Blake Koch, who ended up with just his third finish outside the Top 20 this season when Kaulig Motorsports’ #11 Leaf Filter Gutter Protection Chevrolet needed to go to the garage with power steering issues.  Rounding out the Bottom Five was Mike Harmon, his Dodge 18 laps in arrears.

Jeff Green, who scored most of his 86 XFINITY Series last-place finishes in DiBenedetto’s ride, finished 27th, his best finish in the series since September 27, 2014, when he came home 26th at Dover.  Green also stayed out to lead Lap 41 during the first caution, the first time he’d paced an XFINITY Series field since July 28, 2012 at Indianapolis.  Green was tabbed to drive the #15 Main Gate Enterprises Ford originally entered by Rick Ware Racing, but later sponsored and fielded by B.J. McLeod, who’d placed Todd Peck in the #15 the previous three races.  Green finished one spot ahead of McLeod, who finished inside the Top 30 for the sixth time in seven races in 2016.

On Sunday, DiBenedetto rolled off 30th in BK Racing’s #83 Cosmo Motors Toyota for the Food City 500.  He managed to avoid all the day’s wrecks, got his lap back as the Lucky Dog on Lap 340, and entered the Top 10 in the final laps.  In the final two cautions, DiBenedetto got two great restarts, springing him to 8th, then 6th at the checkered flag.  It was DiBenedetto’s career-best finish in his 41st start, besting his previous mark of 18th last spring at Talladega.  It was BK Racing’s first top-ten finish since Travis Kvapil’s 8th-place run, also at Talladega in the fall of 2012, the team’s first year of operation since acquiring the assets of Team Red Bull.

*This was DiBenedetto’s first last-place finish in an XFINITY Series race at Bristol.

40) #10-Matt DiBenedetto / 4 laps / vibration
39) #93-Josh Wise / 21 laps / transmission
38) #14-J.J. Yeley / 74 laps / electrical
37) #11-Blake Koch / 133 laps / running
36) #74-Mike Harmon / 182 laps / running

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

1st) TriStar Motorsports (5)
2nd) JD Motorsports, RSS Racing (1)

1st) Toyota (5)
2nd) Chevrolet (2)

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