Matt DiBenedetto said he and the No. 21 Quick Lane team are headed into Sunday’s GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway with one main goal in mind.
"I hope not to crash," he said. "That’s Plan A.
"It seems like most of the time if you survive the race without crashing that’s a good day in itself."
Assuming he achieves Goal No. 1, there are other factors he and the team will focus on throughout the race.
"Hopefully we will have a good strategy and make smart decisions throughout the day," he said.
And there will be an emphasis on scoring as many points as possible.
"Stage points are important, and I’d like to get some of those," DiBenedetto said. "Talladega can result in some big points swings, and we want to be on the good side of that."
DiBenedetto has run just 10 Cup races at Talladega, most of them with underdog teams, but he has put a lot of emphasis on perfecting his skills and tactics in the style of racing that occurs at Talladega and its sister track, Daytona International Speedway.
"I’ve worked on that a lot," he said. "I’ve studied it more than any other form of racing we do. There are lots of decisions you make as a driver that can affect the outcome.
"I try to be a smart racer and someone people will want to work with, especially when it comes down to the finish."
This week, for the first time at Talladega, he’ll be driving a potent Ford Mustang and be a part of a Ford team that has won eight of the past nine Cup races at the 2.66-mile Alabama track.
"Fords always fast at Talladega," DiBenedetto said. "The engines are always good, super strong.
"Our car raced well at Daytona, and I’m fortunate to be a part of the Ford team.
"It’s nice to have other Ford drivers with fast cars to work with."
There will be no qualifying or practice prior to the start of Sunday’s GEICO 500, which is set to start just after 3 p.m. Eastern Time with TV coverage on FOX.