By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Correspondent
After a quiet but strong run at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Matt DiBenedetto walked away with a top-five finish.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver lined up inside the top-10 on the final restart for the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301. DiBenedetto’s No. 95 Procore Toyota Camry picked off car after car during the final 32 lap run.
He battled fellow Toyota Racing drivers Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch, as well as Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, and Ryan Newman. DiBenedetto slipped by both Truex and Logano and held off both Newman and Busch to take the checkered flag in fifth.
“It’s a great run for the team,” DiBenedetto admitted. “You always want to get more, but we’re growing as a team. This just shows our strength. These types of tracks are kind of in our wheelhouse and this just shows how good of people we have. It’s not just me driving the car. It’s all these guys. I’m nothing without them. Younger team that’s showing our strength and what we’re here to do.”
Although the Leavine Family Racing driver earned a career-best starting spot, seventh, he fell back early. DiBenedetto finished the first two stages just outside the top-10. However, the car came to life as he surged forward in the final stage.
DiBenedetto drove a twice-repaired car after he suffered flat left rear tires in final practice on Saturday. Both flat tires came after three laps. Luckily for his Mike Wheeler-led team, the damage was minimal for DiBenedetto. The team made adjustments to prevent an in-race repeat of the tire issue.
“Great comeback for us,” DiBenedetto explained. “We raced up there all day and had to adjust on the car a good bit because we missed basically all of the final practice. Just shows how good my team is and my guys.
“They’re the ones that deserve it – Procore, our sponsor, for sticking by my side and believing in me to do this deal and all the folks at Toyota. Gosh, I know I reiterate it, but it took a lot of people for me to get this deal. I’ll never go a day without appreciating it. It’s awesome. Great day for the team.”
The fifth-place finish is just the second top-five finish for DiBenedetto this season and the second of his career. He has now increased his high mark for top-10s in a single season with three in 2019. DiBenedetto’s previous best was two in 2017.
The top-five also moved DiBenedetto up from 25th to 24th in the championship points standings. He is 454-points behind points leader Logano. DiBenedetto is 176-points behind the cutoff for the playoffs, held by Clint Bowyer. With six races until the start of the playoffs, only a win can guarantee a playoff berth for the 27-year-old.