Matt DiBenedetto believes actions after crash contributed to concussion diagnosis

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FORT WORTH, Texas – Matt DiBenedetto said the way he exited his car after wrecking Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway might have contributed to a concussion diagnosis.

“There were a few things, and all of them lined up poorly for me,” said DiBenedetto, who insisted several times that he was healthy during and after a news conference Sunday to promote his No. 83 Toyota’s paint scheme supporting Dallas police officers slain last summer. “But they have to do their job, and I understand that. With all the things going on in sports, I’m not angry at them by all means.

“I’m just a racer, and it just hurts me inside to not be piloting my car.”

The BK Racing driver was placed in NASCAR’s concussion protocol without being transported to a hospital after his crash in the Xfinity Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. Normally, a driver seen by a board-certified ER physician at a track care center is sent to a local hospital for further evaluation and a series of tests generally including a CT scan and MRI.

NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations Steve O’Donnell told NBC Sports’ Dustin Long after the drivers meeting that DiBenedetto was diagnosed by a care center doctor with a concussion. After NASCAR consulted with concussion doctors Dr. Jerry Petty and Dr. Vinay Deshmukh in North Carolina, DiBenedetto was informed of the diagnosis and that he would be held out of today’s AAA 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

The BK Racing driver, who was replaced by Jeffrey Earnhardt in the race, disagreed with the diagnosis (“I know my body, and I know I feel perfect.”) but said he would respect completing the steps to get cleared.

“It wasn’t anything in particular,” DiBenedetto said of the reasons he was given for the diagnosis. “They just said (it was) based on things they evaluated. That was it. It was pretty much they took a look at everything from the time the wreck happened in between me being in the care center. They evaluated some of those circumstances.

“They decided they wanted to err on the side of caution, which I understand. They’re doing their job. My side of it, being in my body, vs. their side of it are definitely a little different, but I know they have to do their job being doctors. And they wanted to err on the side of caution.”

DiBenedetto intimated that a delay in lowering his window net – which drivers in a crash normally do immediately to indicate their well-being – was factored into the decision to hold him out.

“I was trying to be real safe, because there was still traffic going by for quite a while after I wrecked,” he said. “Usually, you want to drop (the window net) quickly, but I was being real cautious and just looking and waiting until the track cleared.”

Suffering from a balky left knee, DiBenedetto also said gingerly descending the banking from the crash scene might have played a role.

“That may have worked against me because it’s always real stiff after every race,” he said. “So that was a circumstance.”

Before being cleared to return, DiBenedetto must be seen by a board-certified neurologist or neurosurgeon with a minimum of five years experience in treating sports-related head injuries. He was confident of being cleared Monday and hadn’t been injured.

“Not the slightest bit,” he said. “If I’d redo the situation knowing how it would turn out, I could have sprinted (down the banking) or done jumping jacks. But everything happens for a reason.”

BK Racing co-owner Ron Devine said NASCAR was “doing the right thing.

“It’s not easy for any of us, especially all we have going on with that special car,” Devine said. “But at the same time, it’s OK to err on the side of caution in this case. I think they’ve done the right thing. Whether it was the data that they saw from the crash or the symptoms they witnessed. Whatever it was that drew them to that conclusion, they felt it was best he go through the process and just be sure.”

Dustin Long contributed to this report.

In need of a wedding singer? Call Steven Tyler

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 05:  Singer Steven Tyler performs during his "Out on a Limb" tour at the Dolby Theatre on July 5, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for ABA)
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for ABA
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Steven Tyler has performed with Aerosmith in a video for ESPN back when it broadcast NASCAR races. Tyler also has performed before the night race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Now, he’s played Kurt Busch‘s wedding.

What more is left for the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer?

Tyler performed at a celebration for the marriage of Kurt and Ashley Busch earlier this month. Kurt Busch posted a photo of the evening.

That NASCAR-themed video Tyler did with Aerosmith for the 2007 season? Here it is:

Before he performed at Bristol in Aug. 2015, Tyler met Richard Petty:

Chip Ganassi Racing adds competition director

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 27:  Team owner Chip Ganassi looks on as drivers perpare on Carb Day ahead of the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motorspeedway on May 27, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images
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Chip Ganassi Racing has hired Mark McArdle to be its competition director, a new position for the organization.

McArlde will oversee the team’s two Cup teams — Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray — and its Xfinity operation, which features Brennan Poole, Tyler Reddick, Justin Marks and Larson.

McArdle had been with Roush Fenway Racing. He joined the team in Nov. 2014 to oversee engineering for its Cup and Xfinity programs. He previously had been director of racing operations at Richard Childress Racing, joining that organization in April 2013. He spent four years before that at Furniture Row Racing, overseeing the team’s competition department.

At Ganassi, McArdle will report to Max Jones, team manager.

Last year marked the first time in the team’s history that it had two cars make the Cup playoffs. Both Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray, though, failed to advance from the first round. Larson, who had one win, finished ninth in the points. McMurray, who was winless, placed 13th.

“I think everybody in the building feels like we took a good step forward last year,’’ said Steve Lauletta, president of Chip Ganassi Racing. “We’re not happy with the step we took. We have more to do. So, being able to bring more of the leadership into the building that can focus on how we get there, the process that we need, we continue to bring on more people.

“I think Max feels like another person can help us make sure that everybody is focused on the right thing and we’re not wasting time and resources. Mark brings a tremendous amount of expertise to continue that growth that we’ve seen.’’

JR Motorsports to keep championship-contending tandem together

SPARTA, KY - JULY 07:  Elliott Sadler, driver of the #1 OneMain Chevrolet, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR XFINITY Series Alsco 300 at Kentucky Speedway on July 7, 2016 in Sparta, Kentucky.  (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images
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JR Motorsports confirmed Tuesday that crew chief Kevin Meendering will remain with Elliott Sadler this season.

Meendering and Sadler recorded three Xfinity wins last year in their first season together. Meendering also helped Sadler score a career-best 29 top-10 results and finish runner-up for the series title to Daniel Suarez.

The announcement was included in a team release about Hunt Brothers Pizza serving as the primary sponsor for Sadler’s car in two races in each of the next two seasons.

Wood Brothers give a tour of new race shop

LOUDON, NH - JULY 15:  Ryan Blaney, driver of the #21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series New Hampshire 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 16, 2016 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images
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The Wood Brothers begin this season not only with a charter but with a new home.

The team had shared a building with JTG Daugherty in Harrisburg, North Carolina, but moved after last season to a shop in Mooresville, North Carolina. The move puts the Wood Brothers closer to Team Penske. The two organizations are aligned.

The Wood Brothers will again have Ryan Blaney as driver. The team also has a charter, leasing it from Go Fas Racing. That means the Wood Brothers team is guaranteed a starting spot in every Cup race this year, unlike last year when they did not have a charter.