Matt DiBenedetto and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane crew got off to a solid start in their first qualifying session as a team, posting the 16th fastest speed in pole qualifying for the 62nd annual Daytona 500.
Only the top-two starting spots are locked in for the 500, with the rest of the line-up determined by the twin Duel qualifying races on Thursday night. DiBenedetto will line up in eighth place in the second 150-mile qualifier.
"Today is important; it is still an important day," DiBenedetto told reporters after posting a speed of 191. 685 miles per hour in Sunday’s time trials. "A better starting spot for the Duels is nice. It isn’t the end-all, be-all for sure, but it is always important.
"It is the first qualifying of the year and for the Daytona 500, so it means a lot to the teams and the speed of the car is a testament to the teams."
DiBenedetto and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Mustang have shown good speed in the early runs at Daytona International Speedway.
He was 10th fastest in Saturday’s opening practice session with a best lap at 201.902 mph, and was eighth among drivers with a best 10-consecutive-lap average of 197.936 mph.
In the second session, with the focus on a single-car run, he was 18th fastest, running just three laps with a best lap at 192.732 mph.
Thursday’s Duel qualifying races are set to start at 7 p.m. with TV coverage on Fox Sports 1.
The Daytona 500 is scheduled to start just after 2:30 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on FOX.