NASCAR provided us access to Zoom meetings with several of the drivers who have advanced to the Playoffs, including Matt DiBenedetto. And while it appeared as though he was set up in a professional home office with a NASCAR Cup Series background, he pulled back the curtain on Instagram to reveal that he was actually at home in his bedroom.
Welcome to NASCAR in 2020.
If you’re the curious type, and who isn’t, check out his Instagram account for this unique behind the scenes story.
On a more serious note, DiBenedetto is seeded in 16th place heading into the Playoffs at Darlington Raceway for Wood Brothers Racing in the iconic No. 21 car. While many may consider him a long shot, he is optimistic about his chances. And though winning is always a priority, his main objective is to make the most of each moment.
Determination. Focus. Maximize. These are his goals as he heads into the final races of the season.
“You know, I think the reason that I say I don’t put too much emphasis on winning is that my goal is absolutely that we want to win. That is a given,” DiBenedetto explained. “I know we can win, for sure and we will. That has been my goal my entire career. As far as execution, the reason I say it is that I feel like you can get too caught up in focusing your race on how to win. It isn’t always the best car that wins.
“My focus is on how to make the most of our race car and the most of that day and not get too caught up in guys pulling away or how to get to them but focusing on yourself, your car and your team. Make the most of it. Maximize your day. Hopefully that puts you in position to have a shot at winning at the end of the race. Everyone prepares differently mentally but that is how I prepare to go into a race and I have learned over time, and even this year, to make sure I stay focused on this because it makes us better as a team.”
While he is optimistic, DiBenedetto is also realistic about what he hopes to accomplish over the next 10 races.
“Clicking off a win would be great. That is a great goal. When I say that I don’t focus too much on winning that is more when I am on the track and in the car. From a goal standpoint we would absolutely love to get that 100th win for the Wood Brothers,” he said. “That would be an amazing goal to accomplish. I would say that now that we are in the Playoffs we are focusing on executing and making the most of what we have and make it through a round or a couple rounds.”
Winning the championship may be an elusive goal but success can be achieved on several levels. For DiBenedetto and the Wood Brothers Racing team, the Playoffs will be an opportunity to flourish amid overwhelming odds.
“We are competing for a championship. This is the time to shine and hopefully make it down to the end, DiBenedetto said.
“I would say if I come out of it knowing that we made the most of our race cars and executed well and continue to grow as a team, win a race, that would be an amazing end of the season. To really pick off a lot of positions and points, this is a great opportunity for us to capitalize on now that we are closed in points wise and are the most prepared as a team to go out there and pick off a lot of guys. That is the most exciting thing that I could check off the rest of the season and what we would call a success.”
It’s the opportunity of a lifetime and no one knows better than DiBenedetto how few of those come along.
“I have gone so far and gotten so lucky, to fight and claw from start and parking a car to being in underfunded equipment and trying to show that I can make the most of a race car to fast-forwarding to now and being in way beyond my dream opportunity of driving the 21 car and making the Playoffs driving for the Wood Brothers. It is pretty surreal to have that opportunity to drive. All those things make me and my whole entire family appreciate it on a completely different level that we wouldn’t be able to without those experiences.”
It’s been an emotional and hard-fought journey for DiBenedetto and his family. But each step along the way has led him to this moment and there is no doubt that he intends to make the most of it, with a little humor thrown in along the way.