Matt DiBenedetto is taking on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series full time for the first time in 2022, piloting the No. 25 Rackley W.A.R. Chevrolet.
In his debut with the team and in the series at Daytona International Speedway, DiBenedetto finished 10th.
It seems like a step down for many in the NASCAR world after the 30-year-old previously drove in the NASCAR Cup Series for such teams as Leavine Family Racing and the legendary Wood Brothers Racing. His Cup Series tenure lasted five full-time seasons from 2017-21, along with two part-time years in 2015 and 2016.
Fans of the Californian will remember his underdog top 10 at Bristol Motor Speedway in 2016 when he drove the No. 83 for BK Racing to a sixth-place finish — one of only three top 10 results for the team in its seven-year existence and its best-ever finish in a Cup Series points race. It was a result that caught the eye of many fans and team owners alike.
DiBenedetto claimed his best Cup Series race showing at the same venue in 2019 while driving for LFR in its second-to-last year of competition. He led the most laps in the race (93) and was on his way to claiming his first Cup win when he was overtaken by Toyota pseudo-teammate Denny Hamlin with only 12 laps to go. DiBenedetto finished second that day and had two more runner-ups, both coming at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2020 in the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford.
The journeyman ultimately lost his competitive Cup ride with WBR to up-and-coming driver Harrison Burton and was unable to secure a contract for another team in the series.
He has still yet to claim his first win in any of NASCAR’s three national series.
Frontstretch caught up with DiBenedetto before his Truck Series debut at Daytona International Speedway to discuss his new ride, his outlook on his series downgrade and his plans for the future.
Dalton Hopkins, Frontstretch: Did this deal with Rackley W.A.R. come together at the last minute?
DiBenedetto: Yeah, it did, and it worked out exactly how it was supposed to. It was perfect. So, after the last race season, I had some different phone calls and some different offers and had to sit. And my wife and I talked and were like, ‘What do we want to do? What’s not the world and not all the noise? And most importantly, what’s meant to be for us to do?’
Because life isn’t about me. What’s God’s plan for me to be? I’ve been humbled a lot, so kind of just following that more so because life isn’t about me. So, when the opportunities were there, this one was just really the clear decision of, ‘This is going to be so much fun [and] refreshing.’
The Truck Series has the atmosphere of so much fun, and this team is just full of really great people, and they’re very dedicated and committed, so it was a pretty clear answer.
Hopkins: Why was this team a clear answer? You mentioned the Truck Series being more laid-back, and it seems more homey around here. Why was this so right?
DiBenedetto: Yeah, I’ve been fortunate to gain better discernment in the opportunities that are placed in front of me, you know — credit to above again — so that’s helped changed everything. But it just seemed so clear because my first phone call that I got from Curtis Sutton, here he was with Rackley Roofing and the team. He was so all-in and committed. I was also very humble and just wanted to make this team as successful as possible. He wasn’t afraid to reach out, and so it just felt like the right opportunity, 100%.
Two, it’s a great quality of life. Some of the schedule is a little bit more tame. I’ve never been home on weekends before, so that part is also nice. It’s kind of like the stars aligned for it all just to be very refreshing — a lot of fun. I’ve never been so excited going into a race season. Just excited and at peace with it.
Hopkins: You’ve had such a such a journeyman career. You seem to have done it all except for the Trucks. You’ve been the ‘everywhere man’ in racing for so many teams. What’s it like to go through all that and now face a new challenge and completely new vehicle?
DiBenedetto: Yeah, what my career has been full of is humbling me a lot, so that’s been awesome. It’s just so neat to look back at how many obstacles in my whole career and, really, life, has thrown at me and how much it’s made me a better person and changed my life. Honestly, saved my life just through humbling me. I understand now why everything has happened the way it has, and it’s been absolutely a true blessing. But it’s been a rollercoaster ride up and down to say the least, but it’s been awesome. Now it’s cool I get to check this one off the box, racing in the Truck Series for the first time.
Hopkins: Tell me a little bit about those obstacles, especially over the last few years in your journey through Cup and now with Rackley W.A.R. Does it seem like you’re just in the right place?
DiBenedetto: Absolutely 100%, it is. Yeah, the journey has been full of ups and downs and lots of trials and tribulations — not only on me but my wife and I — and everyone battles things. It’s all relative for everybody. It’s no different if it’s somebody that’s facing unknowns or uncertainties in their job, whatever job that may be. Same thing. It’s just been that with the racing stuff. I think we’ve had our lives staked into this. I would, for all my life, have told you that this is what comes first over everything and all that. Now, I would tell you it comes second. It changes your whole perspective on it, doesn’t it?
But when I say it comes second, it doesn’t mean you put less effort or you care less. It actually just gives you greater perspective about it and all the journey and all the ups and downs and the nights of my wife crying because of another, “Oh my gosh! Another uncertainty!”
Or almost winning Bristol and coming up short. I could go on for days about how humbling it’s all been. But now, it’s led me to this opportunity, which is so much fun. It’s led me to just an immense amount of life change. That’s been nothing short of just truly a blessing and a lot of humbling.
Hopkins: On top of that, the Truck Series just kind of seems like it’s where underdog teams can rise up to the occasion and sometimes score a win, maybe contend for a championship. Do you feel like you have that opportunity here?
DiBenedetto: Yeah, absolutely. It’s fun. A lot of my career is joining teams and us growing together and going into battle together and making it better. It’s rewarding when you do that. They were so committed, you know, Curtis Willie Allen and Chad Kendrick as crew chief. We all meshed really quick. They’re also committed to just wanting to take this team to where we could. The goal would be to see victory lane and grow this team and make it better. There was no doubt about the commitment that they had, so that was why I was like, ‘Man, this is a perfect opportunity,’ and it’s so satisfying and rewarding.
I wish I would have appreciated it more back in years past when I was driving for [teams like BK Racing and Go Fas Racing, and we had unbelievable accomplishments taking the teams, and not because of me. It was just everybody, us growing these teams and making them way better. It really is incredibly satisfying and rewarding. Not that I didn’t appreciate it. It’s just now it’s like, oh man, I really have a greater appreciation for how rewarding that is with a group like this.
Hopkins: Tell me a little bit about your future. Aside from the full-time season with No. 25, have there been any sort of offers with the NASCAR Xfinity Series, a one-off or part-time ride with Cup or anywhere else in racing?
DiBenedetto: Yes to both of those, there have been. But at this moment, I’m just excited about this, in our team. I’m a very all-in personality, so I really like to be invested in the team I’m driving for, everything that I do. I don’t want to dilute it or distract myself too much. Also, it’s an exciting, fun opportunity, and quality of life is excellent too. When the schedule is laid-back, and it makes you enjoy it more when your schedule is not just slam-packed with stuff. I think you look forward to going to the track a little more. It’s easy to just pack your schedule full and try and make as much money as you can and all that.
It’s not about that anymore for me, it’s more so about the fun and the excitement of taking this deal and focusing on this. And a lot of people have been like, ‘Are you OK with racing the Trucks?’ and ‘I hope you get back to Cup,’ and this and that.
Man, I don’t think people understand how genuinely excited I actually am, and I wouldn’t change one bit. If you could snap your fingers and be like, ‘Alright man, you’re in control now and you can place yourself in this Cup ride or this and that, I’d just be like, ‘No, I’ve just worked out exactly how it’s supposed to. I’m good with exactly this.’
About the author
Dalton Hopkins began writing for Frontstretch in April 2021 after a staff writing position with IMSA. A race fan since he was three years old, he began freelance writing in 2018 and graduated with a B.S. in Communications from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 2019. Simultaneously, he also serves as a First Lieutenant in the US Army.