By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – When it comes to restrictor plate racing, the smaller teams in the NASCAR garage always circle these races as opportunities to capitalize.
On Saturday night at Daytona, Matt DiBenedetto and Go Fas Racing placed themselves square in the middle of the action, bringing home a seventh-place finish by the time the checkered flag flew.
“The Fords always run really good at the speedways, so that’s why we always seem to find ourselves up front at the end,” said DiBenedetto. “Fords and Roush-Yates Engines are the best, so we’re glad to have them.”
“That was about all we had there. We restarted on the bottom at the end and the bottom is a little tough to get going. We just kind of stalled out where we were. Those cars up front had some pretty good speed and we kind of ended up about where we should have. I would have liked to win, but one day.”
Starting the day back in 31st place, DiBenedetto and his team elected to hang out in the back of the pack for the early stages of the race in an effort to keep their car intact to be able to last until the finish.
Despite their plan, restrictor plate racing is always unpredictable and the team found out just how unpredictable when a multi-car crash broke out on lap 55. DiBenedetto got caught up in the melee and suffered some damage, but the team was able to get it repaired and back out on track. A feat many others weren’t able to accomplish.
Back on track, DiBenedetto methodically worked his way forward, avoiding the chaos that played out through the remainder of the race, cracking the top-10 with 17 laps to go.
Though he would get dropkicked out of the lead pack and fall back out of the top-10, he was able to evade the final crash of the night in the tri-oval, climbing all the way inside the top-five with a shot at the win.
When the race went back green for the final time in overtime, DiBenedetto gave it his best shot, but with a wounded race car, he didn’t have quite enough to get past the leaders and had to settle for seventh-place.
“I said it on the radio, everybody watching at home has to think we are absolute maniacs, which we are,” he said of the chaos throughout the race. “It’s 200 mph of not caring about absolutely anything. It’s just nuts, man. It’s fun. I’m glad that we survived it. It’s interesting looking around at all of these cars and the condition they’re in. It was a crazy one.”
Not only was it DiBenedetto’s best finish of the season, Saturday night’s race marked his fourth career top-10 finish and the best since climbing behind the wheel of the No. 32 car. With his finish, DiBenedetto was quick to acknowledge how much a result like that would help a small team like Go Fas Racing.
“These finishes just help a small team like us,” he said. “Help with our sponsor situation, help getting a good run for Zynga Poker, so that’s what helps the most is getting a good run for our sponsors and our team, financially. We’re a very small operation, so it helps a lot.”