NASCAR Cup PR Ford Performance NASCAR: California (Matt DiBenedetto Media Availability)

Ford Performance NASCAR: California (Matt DiBenedetto Media Availability)


Ford Performance Notes and Quotes
NASCAR Cup Series (NCS)
Friday, February 28, 2020
EVENT: NASCAR Cup Series Media Availability

MATT DIBENEDETTO, No. 21 Menards/Quaker State Ford Mustang

WHAT DID YOU LEARN IN THE SECOND PRACTICE? “We got the car even better. That is all you can ask for. It was good. We are figuring out what we need to be good in the race on the long run. The temperature is going to be way different. It was a much smoother couple of practices than Las Vegas because there a lot of people were way off on balance and everyone was really loose. We have it pretty close here. I think it is really competitive.”

YOU HAVE BEEN RAVING ABOUT BEING IN THE 21 CAR, SET ASIDE THE ICONIC NATURE OF IT, HOW DO YOU FEEL NOW THAT YOU HAVE BEEN INSIDE IT FOR A COUPLE RACES IN TERMS OF THE PERFORMANCE OF THE CAR? “It is cool. It gives me a lot of confidence driving it as far as the speed, just the raw speed of the car and the performance of it. We were building our team last year and most of my career has been in underfunded equipment, so jumping into this level of equipment and car, the stuff that sticks out to me was like last weekend at Vegas we drove up to seventh and our car wasn’t perfect. We were racing around seventh and it was not the prettiest weekend. We had to make big changes in the race and all that stuff and I was like, ‘Eh, it is okay.’ But we ran seventh with a car that was okay. Knowing that if we had track position at the end and do the right things you can finish second. This weekend out here in practice on average it is pretty consistent. It has so much speed it is hard to not be in the top-10. The cars are just fast. They do a good job.”

YOU TALK ABOUT GOING FASTER. AT THIS RACETRACK, IS IT DIFFERENT WITH THE SEAMS AND EVERYTHING LIKE THAT? DOES THE ADDITIONAL SPEED MAKE A DIFFERENCE HERE? “No, it is kind of the same as always. I think it is just funny, you drive the car just like you do any other time with any other team, any other car, anything. You drive it the same and your job is to just get the most out of it. But it is like you just look down at the lap times and they are pretty good. You aren’t driving any different. It isn’t really handling any different, it is just obviously a car with a lot of great backing behind it and great people and all that stuff so they just go fast and you run further up front. As a driver, I just make sure to race smart and do all the things I know I am good at to be the best I can and maximize what I’ve got. That is a different situation. It is fun. It is fun being fast.”

LAST YEAR THE BIGGER TRACKS WERE KIND OF YOUR WEAKNESS. YOU HAVE BEEN FAST IN PRACTICE HERE AFTER THE RUNNER UP LAST WEEK. WHAT DOES THAT DO FOR YOU MENTALLY? “It is a lot of confidence. It gives you confidence having that fast of a race car and that good of a team around you and stuff. It helps me to be better too. It is really a lot about those guys putting a fast car underneath me. Yeah, that was a weakness last year. I am sure there are things I can always improve on but us as a team we lacked speed at most the 1.5 mile tracks. It is kind of cool starting off the year already with a second place at Vegas on a mile and a half which was our weakness last year. Then going out here today on a 2 mile track and being fast, top five and top-10 car. It is neat having that good of a piece underneath you.”

HOW DO YOU HANDLE THE SEAMS HERE? “Don’t hit ‘em. You have to cross them at some point but for the majority of the corner you do not want to lay your right sides on them or else it feels terrible. You have to be so precise. It is inches of where you run your car here line wise. It is really sensitive.”

PHOENIX WILL BE THE SEASON FINALE, BUT YOU GET TO GO THERE NEXT WEEKEND. DO YOU FEEL THE NEW PACKAGE WILL SHOWCASE YOUR TALENT MORE? WHAT IS YOUR FEELING GOING THERE NEXT WEEK? “I am really excited. I am way more excited than last year even because I love short tracks and I love road courses and those places where you are sliding around. Getting back to the low downforce just makes me 100-times more excited going back to the track. I don’t know if fans realize how big a difference it is. It takes a ton of grip out of the cars and lets you get way closer to the car in front of you too. You get back to more old school, sliding around, short track racing.”
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