Matt DiBenedetto and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane team head to Darlington Raceway this weekend to begin their quest for the Cup Series championship and are recognizing the occasion with a most appropriate throwback paint scheme.
As part of Darlington’s throwback weekend theme, DiBenedetto’s Mustang will carry a paint scheme based on the 1963 Ford Galaxie that delivered the Wood Brothers the 1963 car owners championship. So far, it’s the only Cup title in the team’s 70-year history.
In 1963, Tiny Lund drove the car to victory in the Daytona 500.
The late team founder Glenn Wood wheeled it to his last win as a Cup driver, at Bowman Gray Stadium on July 13, 1963. Marvin Panch, who returned to the ’63 Galaxie after being severely burned in a sports car crash prior to the Daytona 500, also won in it, at North Wilkesboro on Sept. 29, 1963.
Altogether, the Wood Brothers, who did not run a full schedule in that era, took the owners championship with 23 starts, scoring three wins, 16 top-five and 20 top-10 finishes. They used five different drivers – Wood, Lund, Panch, Dave MacDonald and Fred Lorenzen.
Joe Weatherly, who drove for nine different owners, took the driving championship.
DiBenedetto said he excited to have his Motorcraft/Quick Lane Mustang looking like a championship car.
“The throwback to the championship-winning Wood Brothers car will be an honor to drive at Darlington,” he said. “I can’t wait to get it on track especially in the Playoffs!”
DiBenedetto, who already has raced twice at Darlington this year in the No. 21 Mustang, said he’s optimistic about the third – and biggest – Darlington start of 2020.
“I think we made some improvements in the second race,” he said, pointing out that he and crew chief Greg Erwin finished 14th in the first Darlington race then upped that to ninth-place in the second. He said there’s room for more improvement in the Cook Out Southern 500, the first race of the 2020 Playoffs.
“There’s still a lot we can work on to be better this week,” he said.
While some drivers don’t particularly like racing on the tricky Lady in Black, DiBenedetto said he’s not among them.
“I love the slick, worn-out race tracks,” he said. “So that will be fun.”
There will be no practice or qualifying before the start of the Cook Out Southern 500, which is set for just after 6 p.m. on Sunday, with TV coverage on NBCSN.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!