MattieD’s Martinsville Plan: Qualify Fast, Keep Track Position

Matt DiBenedetto

No. 95 Toyota Express Maintenance Toyota Camry Notes:


In nine Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career starts at Martinsville, Matt DiBenedetto has an average start of 30.6, an average finish of 31.6, and he’s completed 3,997 of 4,505 (88.7 percent) career laps at the half-mile Virginia track.


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The First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway (0.526-mile) begins at 3:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, October 27th. The race will be broadcast live on NBCSN, Sirius XM Channel 90 and MRN Radio.

DiBenedetto’s Career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Stats at Martinsville:

Date Event: S F Laps Status

03/29/15 STP 500 43 31 494/500 Running

11/01/15 Goody’s Headache Relief 500 36 30 492/500 Running

04/03/16 STP 500 35 29 495/500 Running

10/30/16 Goody’s Fast Relief 500 27 32 489/500 Running

04/02/17 STP 500 28 35 401/500 Crash

10/29/17 First Data 500 28 39 187/505 Electrical

03/26/18 STP 500 31 32 488/500 Running

10/28/18 First Data 500 26 36 451/500 Running

05/24/19 STP 500 21 20 500/500 Running

                       Races     Wins     Top 5s    Top 10s       Poles

Cumulative 9 0 0 0 0

DiBenedetto’s 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Season Stats:

Starts Wins Top-5’s Top-10’s Poles Laps Led Avg. Start Avg. Finish

32           0              3                7               0               152                 21.2               18.6

DiBenedetto’s Career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Stats:

Starts Wins Top-5’s Top-10’s Poles Laps Led Avg. Start Avg. Finish

172 0 3 11 0 175 29.3 27.0

From the Driver’s Seat:

Matt DiBenedetto:

“This year’s rules package changed Martinsville more than we had originally thought from what we learned in the race there earlier this season. Even though Martinsville is more of a slow speed short track, we were able to put the throttle down on the straightaways in the long runs during the spring race. In the past we wouldn’t have been able to do that because we would have been sliding them all the way down the straightaway without being able to put the gas down. With cars handling that way now it makes it even harder to pass at Martinsville because there’s less discrepancy in speed, and less major falloff where you used to see people blowing the tires off on the straightaways without being able to put the throttle down while others were very distinct long-run cars. Now everyone is a lot closer in speeds, so it’s a lot harder to be able to charge through the pack at Martinsville. The plan for this weekend is pretty straightforward: qualify well and keep track position all day. To have a good day, you need to have a car with aggressive short-run speed and be able to turn really well. The track doesn’t rubber up as much as it used to, so it changes your set-up approach, my approach to the race, and driving the track. The dynamic of the racing at Martinsville has just changed with this package. It’s still Martinsville though and one of my favorite tracks on the circuit.”

From the Pit Box:

Mike Wheeler:

“Richmond, Phoenix, and Loudon are all pretty fast short tracks on our circuit compared to Martinsville, so we don’t really apply much of what we learn at those places to Martinsville since it’s more of a slow mid-corner track. The new downforce package did affect the racing we saw earlier this season at Martinsville quite a bit. A lot of that had to do with the tire and tire falloff during the spring race. Before at Martinsville, you had to fight forward drive a lot. The big spoiler this year has reduced that by a decent amount, and it makes the lap time degradation quite a bit less than it used to be. That was the big experience that we took away from the spring race at Martinsville with this package. Going back this weekend, it will be cooler temperature-wise and this race generally ends towards evening. Those factors play into the track conditions changing over the course of the race and make for having to account for that within the balance of our Camry. The better cars at Martinsville can still pass and make gains throughout the course of the race. Obviously, execution is still critical because it’s just generally hard to pass at Martinsville. Martinsville is one of those tracks though where the better cars seem to migrate forward, but the idea would be to qualify as well as you can with the impound setup, bide your time for the first half of the race, and then make sure you can stay ahead of the changing track so that you’re ready to finish strong.”

No. 95 Toyota Express Maintenance Toyota Camry Team:

Driver: Matt DiBenedetto Crew Chief: Mike Wheeler

Car Chief: Greg Emmer Spotter: Doug Campbell

Engineer: J.R. Houston Engineer: Etienne Cliche

Mechanic: Bill Mares Mechanic: Matt Kimball

Shock Specialist: Sean Studer Mechanic: Zach Marquardt

Tire Specialist: Tony Ramirez Jackman: Charles Thacker

Fueler: Bailey Walker Rear Changer: Deven Youker

Front Changer: Jason Charles Tire Carrier: Chris Hall

Hauler Driver: Damon Lopez Pit Support: Brian Eastland


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