Matt DiBenedetto and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane team were fast early in Sunday’s Bank of America Roval 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway but after being involved in some chain-reaction crashes wound up with a 22nd-place finish.
Sunday’s 109-lap race started in rainy conditions, but the sun soon began to break through. Sensing the rain was ending, crew chief Greg Erwin was among the first to bring his driver in for regular, treadless racing tires.
As the track began to dry, DiBenedetto, who started 20th, was able to motor by his competitors still running grooved rain tires and take third place in the first 25-lap Stage.
At the start of Stage Two, DiBenedetto continued to race among the leaders until Lap 34, when he had to stop to avoid contact with Brad Keselowski, his Ford teammate who spun around backwards ahead of him.
That evasive move cost him 12 positions and set the pattern for the remainder of the race.
One incident damaged the right front of the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Mustang. The crew made repairs and got DiBenedetto up to speed only to see the left front damaged in another incident.
DiBenedetto was able to briefly rejoin the top 10 in the third segment of the race, but the incidents on restarts caused him to lose track position he was never able to regain.
“We had about everything go wrong,” DiBenedetto said. “We just couldn’t dig ourselves out of the hole we were in. It was just a long, rough day.”
Eddie Wood, who joined his son Jon and brother Len in watching their first race in person since attendance was strictly limited due to the coronavirus, said it was good to be back at a race track.
“I wish we’d had a better day,” he said. “We did get some stage points, and Greg made good calls all day, but racing on the Roval is tough.”
DiBenedetto and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team are 15th in the Cup Series points standings heading into the next race, at Kansas Speedway on Sunday afternoon.