Matt DiBenedetto and the No. 21 Menards/Knauf Insulation team head into the fifth race of the 2020 Cup season ninth in the points standings and hungry for more.
In the first four races of the year, the No. 21 team has posted a best finish of second, at Las Vegas, and an average finish of 11.8. They also have earned 17 Stage points, including four for a seventh-place finish in the 150-mile qualifying races at Daytona International Speedway.
Now the team heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway for Sunday’s Folds of Honor/Quik Trip 500. Atlanta’s aging track surface is a maintenance nightmare for track officials responsible for keeping it in racing condition but a dream come true for drivers like DiBenedetto.
“I compare it to Fontana,” DiBenedetto said. “The surface is old, and that allows the cars to spread around more. It makes it more racey, more fun.”
Worn pavement also puts a premium on tire management, and that’s OK with DiBenedetto.
“It’s more my style,” he said. “It’s a fun track. Hopefully we can qualify decent, race well and stay up front the whole time.”
While it’s inevitable that Atlanta, which hasn’t been paved since a reconfiguration from a true oval to a quad-oval in 1997, will eventually have to be repaved, DiBenedetto hopes that can be put off as long as possible.
“New repaves are never fun,” he said. “It takes years to get the asphalt aged so that it races well.
“That asphalt at Atlanta gives the track character and makes for multiple lanes.
“We all love it.”
Qualifying for the Folds of Honor/Quik Trip 500 is set for 12:05 p.m. on Saturday, and the race is scheduled to start just after 2 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on FOX.