Career-best finish leaves Matt DiBenedetto emotional
A sixth-place finish might not mean that much to many NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers.
But to an emotional Matt DiBenedetto, it meant everything Sunday in the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
It represented not only a career-best finish for the driver of the No. 83 BK Racing Toyota, but something more that left DiBenedetto on the verge of tears afterward.
"I’m sorry I’m so speechless," said DiBenedetto, who actually then went on to be anything but. "I’m so thankful to everybody on this team, everybody at BK Racing, (primary sponsor) Cosmo Motors in Hickory, North Carolina. They’re local to me, (the owner) he’s my best friend, sells some awesome cars, please check them out.
"These guys, man … that’s unbelievable for a team like to us to be growing this much and for us to get a sixth-place run. I’m sorry I’m so emotional, it’s just this is like a win for us. I am so excited."
DiBenedetto, 24, made 33 Sprint Cup starts as a rookie last season — but never finished better than 18th. His best finish in seven previous starts this season was 20th at Phoenix.
Furthermore, DiBenedetto’s Sunday finish was the finest in the history of BK Racing, which opened its doors in 2012. In 362 starts prior to Sunday, the only other top-10 finish by a BK Racing driver was by Travis Kvapil when he finished eighth at Talladega in October of 2012.
"A sixth-place finish for BK Racing and for all my guys, this is like a win for us," DiBenedetto repeated. "Again, I apologize for being so emotional, but this is an incredible run. I can’t thank my team enough, my crew chief Gene Need and everyone on this team for working so hard and busting their tails for me to be able to drive this racecar in the Sprint Cup Series.
"This is such an honor and I’m so thankful to all the sponsors — Dustless Blasting, Cosmo Motors, Dr. Pepper and I know I’m forgetting people. Thank you to the fans most importantly. They are so great and so supportive. I’m just really thankful to be here. This was a great day."
Finally, DiBenedetto gestured toward several family and team members on pit road and added: " I see my family back here — my wife, Taylor, my brother is in town from the military and I’m so glad he got to experience this. This is just, this is incredible. I’m so blessed to be here."