Story By: JOSH MASTEN / WOOD BROTHERS RACING – STUART, VA – After a couple of disappointing outcomes at Daytona International Speedway, Matt DiBenedetto and the Menards/Moen team are hoping the third race of the 2021 Cup Series season – on Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway – will be the charm.
DiBenedetto, who was involved in an early crash in the season-opening Daytona 500 and had a damaging flat tire in the opening laps of last Sunday’s race on the road course at Daytona, said he’s ready to put all that bad luck behind him in Sunday’s Dixie Vodka 400 on the 1.5-mile track at Homestead.
Last year at Homestead, DiBenedetto and the Menards/Moen team rallied from a collision on pit road early in the race to finish 14th.
“We had real good potential there last year and had trouble on pit road,” DiBenedetto said. “I’m looking forward to seeing where we stack up on Homestead and the rest of the intermediate tracks.
“I think they’ll be good for us, and we should be able to get in our rhythm.”
DiBenedetto, who will start near the rear of the pack on Sunday in a line-up based on the results of the first two races of the season, said he’s looking forward to some better finishes that will allow him and the team to move up in the standings and have better starting positions in races where there is no qualifying or practice.
As it is now, his task is daunting.
“There will be a lot of cars to pass,” he said. “It makes the day a lot longer.”
DiBenedetto said that at some tracks, the disadvantage of starting in the rear can be overcome by pit strategy. But he doesn’t foresee too many opportunities for that at Homestead due to the tire wear there.
“At Homestead, every time the caution comes out you’re going to want four fresh tires,” he said. “There’s not much strategy to it. You just have to be smart and come through the field the hard way.”
DiBenedetto pointed out that a strong finish at Homestead can generate some positive momentum for the Menards/Moen team.
“We can start racking up points and contending for wins, which we know we can do,” he said.
The Dixie Vodka 400, which will have Stage breaks at Laps 80 and 160, is scheduled to start just after 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time on Sunday with TV coverage on FOX.