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Matt DiBenedetto’s NASCAR demotion to Trucks not stopping him


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NASCAR driver Matt DiBenedetto, pictured right here in 2020, is adjusting to life within the Truck Sequence after spending the earlier three seasons on the Cup degree.

jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

As he continues down a winding profession path, Matt DiBenedetto is taking his fingers off the wheel.

That’s uncommon for a NASCAR driver, however the Tenting World Truck Sequence driver is taking life because it comes, a shift in his mindset that got here after a tumultuous previous couple of years in his racing life.

“I’ve kind of dropped what my plans are and what I want to do and more so just let it happen as we cruise along. Trust God’s plan, because every time I try and intervene, I mess everything up,” he stated forward of Saturday night time’s DoorDash 250 at Sonoma Raceway.

The California race is one which DiBenedetto had circled because the one he was most excited for earlier than the season even began, he stated.

It’s been a spot of success for him. In 2019, he completed fourth within the Toyota/Save Mart 350 as a Cup Sequence racer for Leavine Household Racing. At 27 years outdated, he appeared poised to construct off the success.

That ascension by no means materialized, as an alternative turning right into a steep decline.

DiBenedetto went from being within the Cup Sequence to competing within the Truck Sequence — two NASCAR ranges down — for a virtually model new crew.

Leavine dropped him after that 2019 season. He moved to Wooden Brothers however didn’t final there previous the 2021 marketing campaign, changed this yr by Harrison Burton. In these three seasons, he completed twenty second, thirteenth and 18th in factors, respectively, within the Cup Sequence with no wins and by no means reaching the playoffs.

DiBenedetto discovered himself with out a Cup Sequence alternative for 2022. He moved down, racing full-time within the Truck Sequence for Rackley WAR — a crew in simply its second full yr within the Truck Sequence.

His struggles have continued, even on the decrease degree of competitors. He ranks thirteenth and would miss the playoffs in the event that they began at the moment. By way of 11 races he has no top-five finishes.

“We’ve had some tough circumstances, some rough luck,” he stated. “It’s been crazy, a crazy first part of the season. You know, a cut tire when we’re running good at Charlotte … it just seems like it’s been one thing after another.”

DiBenedetto’s frustration with the shortage of outcomes is barely tempered by his information of the crew’s limitations, he stated.

Rackley WAR’s inexperience and ensuing errors have mixed with lesser monetary sources to create the problems which have bit his crew by the primary half of the yr, he famous.

However the racer stays optimistic about his squad’s long-term potentialities.

“I think people are seeing we’re starting to clean those things up, having smoother runs,” he stated. “We’re starting to execute and put it all together.”

Even when DiBenedetto and Rackley flip their season round, he stated he isn’t seeking to bounce again to the Cup Sequence. He’s having fun with the Truck Sequence, calling it refreshing, and stated he isn’t right here for the quick time period.

When requested if he knew concerning the potential openings for subsequent season, he stated he hadn’t “paid the slightest bit of attention.”

On the floor, that lack of urgency to get again to the very best degree appears puzzling, particularly for somebody who’s been in racing since he drove go-karts as a seven-year-old.

However DiBenedetto’s contentedness is borne out of an elevated perspective concerning the position racing performs in his life.

“I just have more mental clarity than ever driving a race car,” he stated. “Is your life staked in racing in a sense? Yes. But also at the end of the day, man, it’s our job and we’re lucky to be doing it. I have a more balanced approach to it.”

He detailed his earlier strategy — one consumed by the stress of a adverse consequence. He’d obsess over the results of not successful a race or ending within the prime 5 to the purpose that going to the racetrack turned torturous.

“It’s absolute torment, mental torment,” he stated. “Then things go wrong and then my poor wife has to deal with me where I could go home and throw things, I’m so angry.”

DiBenedetto appears to be like again on that point in his life with a sure measure of remorse, saying he was foolish for a way he dealt with himself.

He defined the stress that constructed up in him and people round him due to the uncertainty and unknowns the longer term supplied, calling it an emotional roller-coaster.

“My wife would be crying, family’s a mess, we’re down in the dumps,” he stated.

His personal mindset contributed to that, he stated, calling his earlier self-complacent and entitled. Over time, he started to understand that racing within the Cup Sequence and having a profession centered round racing that at all times allowed him to “put food on the table” wasn’t a given.

His new mindset is predicated on that appreciation for what he does. He appreciates going to the racetrack and driving that truck reasonably than taking a look at it with derision because the image of his demotion.

That shift in mentality has helped how he feels on the racetrack. That earlier psychological torment is now changed by a way of reduction.

“Through being smacked in the head 1,000 times,” DiBenedetto stated, “by now I’ve learned I’m not in control.”

Varun Shankar is a junior on the College of Maryland who’s interning with The Charlotte Observer’s sports activities part for the summer time. He’s a sports activities editor and reporter for Maryland’s pupil newspaper, The Diamondback, and a highschool sports activities author for The Washington Submit.



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