After 500 miles of racing and 72 hours and 28 minutes of rain delay at Texas Motor Speedway, Matt DiBenedetto and the No. 21 Menards/Richmond Water Heaters team are headed home with an eighth-place finish in the AutoTrader 500.
DiBenedetto and the Menards/Richmond team started the race on Sunday afternoon from the 14th position and ran as high as second before rain halted the action after 52 laps with DiBenedetto in 14th place.
When racing finally resumed on Wednesday afternoon, he began working his way forward and finished the first 105-lap Stage in 10th place, earning one bonus point.
As the second stage wound down, crew chief Greg Erwin elected to stay on the track as others pitted. DiBenedetto eventually assumed the lead before making his stop with seven laps remaining in the Stage.
While the move prevented DiBenedetto from earning Stage points in the second Stage, it allowed him to leapfrog to fourth place before the drop of the green flag to start the final segment.
DiBenedetto ran in the top five for the early portion of the stage but eventually yielded a few spots. Still, the decision to go for track position at the end of the second Stage allowed the Menards/Richmond team to score its ninth top-10 finish of 2020.
“It was a good, solid day all around for our Menards/Richmond team,” DiBenedetto said. “Our Mustang was a little better in the warmer temperatures, and as it got colder it cost us a little bit of speed. But the crew made a couple of adjustments that really helped, especially in Turns One and Two.”
DiBenedetto said he was appreciative of the efforts of Erwin and spotter Doug Campbell.
“Greg made some good calls, and Doug was really busy spotting all day which helped us keep our track position and end up with a good finish.”
DiBenedetto said he did have a few close calls at the start of the race, especially when he drove in the areas where the PJ1 traction compound had been applied.
“I had a couple of moments where I slipped the tires,” he said. “That was pretty hairy, but once the track got some heat in it, things were a lot better.”
DiBenedetto and the team moved up one spot in the points standings to 14th as they head home to prepare for Sunday’s race at Martinsville Speedway, the home track of the Wood Brothers.