Matt DiBenedetto and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team will be back at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday for the second points race of the 2021 Cup Series season and the team’s second race this year on the Speedway’s 3.61-mile, 14-turn road course.
Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 takes the spot on the schedule normally held by Auto Club Speedway in California, where concerns about the ongoing pandemic led to the race being moved to Daytona.
DiBenedetto and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team raced on the road course on Feb. 9 in the non-points Busch Clash and finished 10th.
DiBenedetto said he was glad to get in 35 laps in race conditions on the Daytona course as he and the team prepare for the seven points-paying road-course races this season.
“Road courses are where we’re working the hardest to improve,” he said. “Our team is very well rounded between superspeedways, intermediates and short tracks, but we just haven’t been able to get the exact feel I’m looking for on road courses.
“I’m glad we got to run the Clash. That helps us evaluate what we need to improve our Motorcraft/Quick Lane Mustang. We’re hoping to have a solid outcome on Sunday and get a good finish to build on.”
DiBenedetto said that while he was disappointed to be knocked out of the Daytona 500 before having a chance to show the speed of the No. 21 Mustang, he’s still very bullish on 2021.
“It was definitely not the way we want to start the season, but it’s early, and this weekend gives us a chance to go out there and redeem ourselves,” he said. “We’ve got a string of really, really good tracks coming up. We need to take advantage of that and continue to build on the momentum we had at the end of last season.”
There will be no practice or qualifying for Sunday’s 70-lap race, which will have Stage breaks at 16 and 34 laps.
FOX will carry the TV broadcast, and the green flag is set to fly just after 3 p.m. Eastern Time.