By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor
Leavine Family Racing took another step toward their future on Wednesday as the team announced they would be swapping manufacturers to Toyota and bringing Matt DiBenedetto on board to drive their No. 95 Camry in 2019.
Since first joining the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series ranks in 2011, LFR has run with both Ford and Chevrolet, but the new announcement will put them in some of the best equipment they’ve had to date, as the deal includes a technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Matt (DiBenedetto) to our organization,” said Bob Leavine, Owner of Leavine Family Racing. “We feel that he’s going to be a great addition to the team with his great personality and experience on track within the series.
“It’s a tremendous feeling to know that we’re also able to announce our alignment with JGR and TRD for next season as well. Obviously, they’re both first-class organizations and proven winners, so for us to be able to align with them is a huge step for our organization. I’m excited as we continue to work ahead for 2019 thanks to getting Matt as our driver and Toyota as our manufacturer.”
As for DiBenedetto, Wednesday’s news means that he will be coming full-circle, as he started his NASCAR career by running as a development driver in the Xfinity Series and K&N Pro Series East for JGR back in 2009 and 2010 before eventually moving up to the Cup Series with BK Racing and Go Fas Racing.
In four full-time seasons in the Cup Series, DiBenedetto has scored four top-10 finishes, most recently with a seventh-place finish in the July race at Daytona.
Back in early September, the Grass Valley, California native announced his decision to part ways with Go Fas for the upcoming season, taking a self-described “leap of faith” in an effort to better his career.
“I can only begin to explain how fortunate I am to be joining LFR,” said DiBenedetto. “The thought of being reunited with Toyota and the folks at TRD is just unbelievable for me and my family. This is the biggest opportunity of my life and it’s a dream come true to be a part of a team that continues to elevate their program at the highest level of NASCAR.
“No words can describe my gratitude to everyone who believes in me. I’ve had to fight so hard, the old school way, to get here and that will always make me appreciate this amazing opportunity. When I got the phone call from Bob (Leavine) and Jeremy (Lange, LFR General Manager) I was speechless. My wife and I both had tears of joy and it was a very emotional moment that we will always cherish. I look forward to making everyone proud next year, working day and night with my team to show people what we are made of.”
DiBenedetto will finish out the year in his current ride, while Regan Smith will continue to drive the No. 95 car for the remaining six races of the season.