After 68 starts in NASCAR’s premier series with the team, Matt DiBenedetto announced on Twitter Thursday night he will not be returning to BK Racing in 2017.
DiBenedetto, 25, said he’s “decided to go in a different direction” next season and that he has “exciting announcements coming soon.”
All of DiBenedetto’s starts in the premier series were with BK Racing, where he has earned one top-10 finish. That came in the spring race at Bristol Motor Speedway this season.
DiBenedetto finished this season 35th in points and with an average finish of 30th.
“Our 33rd and (35th)-place finishes this year did not produce the results we were hoping to achieve,” said team owner Ron Devine in a statement. “I am, however, very proud of Matt DiBenedetto and his many accomplishments over the past two years. He is a wonderful driver and a special person. I am confident that Matt will go on to be a very successful NASCAR driver, and I believe it is the right time to release him so that he can pursue other opportunities. Myself and everyone at BK Racing wishes Matt all the best in his future endeavors. I am looking forward to much success for both Matt and BK Racing.”
Outside his surprise finish at Bristol, DiBenedetto made headlines at Texas Motor Speedway in November when he missed the premier series race over concussion concerns.
The native of Grass Valley, California, also made 19 starts in the Xfinity Series this season for TriStar Motorsports.
NBC Sports analysts Steve Letarte joined the NASCAR on NBC podcast this week. One of the topics the former crew chief discussed is the challenge of avoiding speeding penalties on pit road. Letarte said the introduction of digital dashboards has made it even harder.
Watch the video to hear his thoughts.
NASCAR handed out two crew chief suspensions in the Cup this week following the race weekend in Phoenix while another was upheld on appeal.
Brad Keselowski‘s crew chief, Paul Wolfe, was suspended three races and the team was docked 35 driver and owners points for failing weights and measurements in post-race inspection.
Kevin Harvick‘s crew chief, Rodney Childers, was suspended one race and the team docked 10 driver and owner points for an unapproved track bar slider assembly.
The penalties for AJ Allmendinger‘s team, including the suspension of crew chief Randall Burnett, was upheld after an appeal.
The NASCAR America crew debates which team is hurt the most by their penalties.
We now have two positive reviews of the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course.
Following AJ Allmendinger‘s comments back in January, IndyCar legend Mario Andretti has shared his thoughts on the 2.4-mile circuit that will likely host a NASCAR Cup race in fall 2018.
As a guest of the track and the NASCAR Racing Experience, the 77-year-old driver piloted two cars – a 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder Hybrid and a 2017 Cadillac CTS-V. Andretti maxed out at 177 mph in the Porsche.
“It’s very difficult sometimes to really create a road course where you can ‘stretch your legs’ inside an oval,” Andretti said in a press release. “From that standpoint, I think they did a good job by giving it rhythm by putting some banking to the hairpin corners – which obviously invites some overtaking. It’s wide enough that you can choose a line. You’re not really trapped. … It’s got a multiple-line (groove) that you can choose from, depending on the capability of the car.”
The “roval” circuit would use most of the 1.5-mile oval NASCAR already competes on.
Allmendinger took part in a data test on the road course in mid-January and later said it “was a lot of fun.”
Earlier this month, Speedway Motorsports Inc. CEO Marcus Smith said the track “learned a lot” from the test.
“We have done a lot to engineer a world-class road course that would include the ‘roval,'” Smith told NBC Sports, adding that “several truckloads of crash walls and catchfence” were being transported in for installation.
The Cup Series has two road courses on it schedule, at Sonoma Raceway in California and Watkins Glen International in New York.
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The drivers of the Furniture Row Racing hauler carrying Erik Jones’ No. 77 Toyota were uninjured Thursday in a hit-and-run accident 15 miles north of Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Travis Watts, who was behind the wheel, and David Shano were traveling from Phoenix Raceway to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, when their tractor-trailer rig was struck shortly after midnight on Interstate 15, according to a team release. The team said a car carrying two occupants pulled off the shoulder and back onto the highway directly in front of the truck, causing front-end damage to the tractor.
The team said there was no damage to the trailer or its interior, which was carrying Jones’ cars.
“We’re all very relieved no one was injured in the incident,” team president Joe Garone said. “There was substantial damage to the tractor, but everything in the trailer was checked out thoroughly and is OK. We’ve rented a tractor and the No. 77 hauler is on schedule to arrive at Auto Club Speedway later (Thursday).”
The team rented a replacement tractor at a Rush Truck Centers in North Las Vegas.
According to the team, the Nevada Highway Patrol apprehended and arrested the occupants of the car. The team is working to supply police with a video dash cam from the No. 77 tractor.