Matt DiBenedetto and the Wood Brothers’ No. 21 Ford Mustang will carry the colors of Quaker State in this weekend’s Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway, and DiBenedetto said that’s the one of the best parts of the upcoming race weekend.
"It’s a big race for Quaker State, and I’ll be driving their car," he said.
Another positive heading into race week is that DiBenedetto and the Menards/Quaker State team are back in the top 12 in car owner points and therefore will be drawing for one of the top 12 starting positions.
He moved up two spots in the standings to 12th despite a late-race incident at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where he was vying for sixth place but wound up 19th after earning 11 Stage points earlier in the race.
"Even though it was a really bad ending [at Indy], I’m really excited to be back in the top 12 in points," he said. "Starting spots are a big deal. Hopefully we can keep on climbing."
The current lower horsepower/higher downforce handling package used at tracks like Kentucky, plays to one of his strong suits.
With track position a key factor in races, a driver’s best chance to move forward is to gain as many positions as possible on in the initial start and subsequent restarts.
That requires some aggressive driving, and DiBenedetto has proven to be up to the challenge.
"My team believes in me, and my aggression has paid off more times than it has not," he said, adding that he hasn’t always been one to race so hard just after a restart. "It’s something I developed over the years. I try to make smart but aggressive moves, and restarts are a lot more critical now with the current package."
He said that it helps to have a spotter, Doug Campbell, who is of the same frame of mind when it comes to restarts.
"That’s why I pushed so hard for him to come to the Wood Brothers with me," DiBenedetto said. "We had a good relationship going, and he always gives me excellent advice.
"He’s aggressive, quick and decisive. He tells me exactly what I need to know."
There will be no practice or qualifying for Sunday’s Quaker State 400, which is set to get the green flag just after 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time with TV coverage on FOX Sport One.