By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Correspondent
BRISTOL, Tenn. – Despite the marked improvement that Matt DiBenedetto has shown, his tenure at Leavine Family Racing will end after the 2019 season.
Following a trend, DiBenedetto took a chance on himself, and moved from Go Fas Racing to LFR following the 2018 off-season. However, forces outside of the Grass Valley, Calif.-native’s control have resulted in a brief opportunity. DiBenedetto will now be a free agent at the conclusion of 2019.
“I got the devastating news that I will not be able to return to Leavine Family Racing next season,” DiBenedetto explained. “Nonetheless, I can’t express how thankful I am for Bob (Leavine), Sharon, Matt Diliberto, and everyone at LFR and Toyota for allowing me to do exactly what I set out to do, which was to showcase my talent. It has been exciting as a team to get top-5s and top-10s, and lead the most laps in the Daytona 500.”
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver earned his first career top-five finishes with the Toyota Racing team. DiBenedetto is the first to score two top-five finishes in a single season in the No. 95 Toyota Express Maintenance Toyota Camry.
DiBenedetto earned a career best fourth-place finish at Sonoma Raceway. He has earned four top-10 finishes with LFR, matching his career total to date.
“I have every intention of driving my heart out the rest of the season to not only get more of these kinds of finishes, but to get their first win,” DiBenedetto declared. “I would love to do that for them.
“Although this is a difficult time for me, nothing is going to stop me from winning in the NASCAR Cup Series. I’m hopeful there is a team out there that will give me the chance to continue my dream and allow me to win for them.”
With three races remaining before the start of the 2019 playoffs, DiBenedetto sits 23rd in the championship points standings. Only a victory can guarantee the 28-year-old a playoff berth as he is 158-points behind the cutoff for the playoffs.
The departure of DiBenedetto will mark the fourth different full-time driver in the No. 95 LFR Toyota Camry in four seasons. It also leaves the fan favorite looking for his third different team in the past three seasons.
With seats in NASCAR’s Premier Series becoming harder to come by, there are few possible landing spots for the fifth-year driver.
“Thank you so much to all my fans for supporting me through this journey,” DiBenedetto concluded.