NASCAR America: Matt DiBenedetto grateful for sponsors found via Twitter campaign

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After an eventful Tuesday on social media for Matt DiBenedetto, the GoFas Racing driver met with NASCAR America’s Marty Snider to discuss how effective a call for sponsor help turned out to be.

A video DiBenedetto recorded and posted on Twitter quickly resulted in pledges of $5,000 from fellow Cup drivers Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick, as well as Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip. DiBenedetto told Snider another big name in the sport “silently” chipped in as well.

Late Wednesday, GoFas Racing announced the following supporters for the team this weekend: Zynga Poker, Enlisted Nine Fight Company, Pit Stops for Hope, Denny Hamlin (Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown), Kevin Harvick (KHI Management), and Darrell Waltrip (Waltrip Brothers Charity Championship).

“You never know the power of social media, man, it’s impressed me many times and probably never more than this one,” DiBenedetto said. “It was just an on the fly thing, we didn’t have any plan for it.”

The 26-year-old driver made clear that the team and his job were not in jeopardy, but that it’s very hard for a team to be unsponsored for any race.

“Obviously, a little more came out of it than anticipated,” DiBenedetto said. “It turned into an emotional day for me, to be honest.”

The second-year driver for GoFas Racing was awestruck by the support from Hamlin, Harvick and Waltrip.

“Those are people, dude, that I looked up to since I was a kid watching, those are some of my heroes,” DiBenedetto said. “For them to think that much of me and want me to be a big part of this sport, knowing I’m a young guy … I’m not kidding … I rode home in my truck like in silence because I was just floored.”

Watch the above video for more from DiBenedetto and NASCAR America’s analysts.

Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick offer GoFas Racing financial support for Phoenix race

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Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick are following in the footsteps of Dale Earnhardt Sr. for at least one race weekend.

The two Cup drivers will be financial backers of a competitor in a Cup Series race, something Earnhardt did a handful of times in the late 1980s and early ’90s via his Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet dealership.

Tuesday morning, Matt DiBenedetto took to Twitter to ask his followers to work their social media magic.

DiBenedetto, in his second season driving for the team, made a video requesting help in connecting the team with any businesses who would be interested in being on the car.

DiBenedetto made the plea because the team did not have a primary sponsor for this weekend’s race at ISM Raceway

Within eight minutes, Hamlin announced he would chip in $5,000 to help the team.

DiBenedetto replied that the team could put his face, the Denny Hamlin Foundation logo or “whatever you would like” on the car.

Hamlin later tweeted of DiBenedetto: “Very good driver here that deserves being on the track. Any company would be represented well on his car.”

Soon after that, NASCAR Hall of Famer and Fox Sports analyst Darrell Waltrip offered up another $5,000 through his “Boogity Brands.”

Harvick then followed with another $5,000 from KHI Management.

Who said nothing good ever happened on the Internet?

See how the deal scame together below and check back here to see what else comes of DiBenedetto’s social media Hail Mary.

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Noah Gragson asks Twitter for ice cream, fans deliver in person

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It’s been a banner week for fan interactions with NASCAR drivers on Twitter.

Cup driver Ryan Blaney met his “biggest little fan” on Tuesday at Walt Disney World, a meeting coordinated with the kid’s dad via Twitter.

And Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch each ventured out into the infield of Daytona International Speedway to meet some of their supporters.

Now Camping World Truck Series driver Noah Gragson has gotten into the mix.

Gragson, who drives for Kyle Busch Motorsports, tweeted to his followers at 11:21 p.m. ET Wednesday night that he was “in need” of vanilla ice cream.

He went as far as to let everyone know where he was staying in Daytona Beach.

Just before midnight, two fans arrived on the seventh floor with a case of Breyers vanilla ice ream.

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Twitter brings Ryan Blaney together with ‘biggest little fan’ at Disney World

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Michael Bell doesn’t tweet often.

Since joining Twitter in August 2012, Bell has tweeted just 15 times beginning in August 2016.

But his last seven tweets were all about his son, Natty, getting to meet his favorite NASCAR driver – Ryan Blaney.

The meeting occurred Tuesday at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, roughly an hour from Daytona International Speedway where Blaney is taking part in Speedweeks. The park is a long way from Red Lion, Pennsylvania, which Bell claims as his home on Twitter.

The first tweet toward bringing Natty and Blaney together was sent on Dec. 30, the day before the driver’s 24th birthday.

Blaney actually saw that tweet and liked it.

The next day, Bell and Natty wished Blaney a happy birthday.

Bell didn’t tweet again until Tuesday – 46 days later – when he and his family were at the Hollywood Studios portion of the park, where Blaney, his sister and a friend happened to be.

“I saw that and his kid was wearing my shirt,” Blaney said Wednesday during Daytona 500 Media Day. “Said he was my biggest fan. … We were eating and were able to meet up with them for a little bit. That was pretty cool how they were out there and they took the time to come hang out and meet us for a little bit. His whole family was there and he had a couple of other kids who were fans, too. I thought the timing was pretty cool, how they were in the same spot as us and pretty happy to make that happen.”

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Chase Elliott: Returning to the No. 9 is ‘getting back home to me’

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For Chase Elliott, the number on the side of his Cup car is a big deal.

But it’s still just a number.

The Hendrick Motorsports driver will once again compete under the banner of the No. 9. It’s the numeral his father, Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, raced with for much of his Cup career and which Chase Elliott competed with for two years in the Xfinity Series, winning the 2014 title.

Chase Elliott returns to the number after two seasons in Cup driving the No. 24 made famous by Jeff Gordon.

Chase Elliott during the Goodyear tire test at Texas Motor Speedway. (Chevrolet)

But the 22-year-old driver has no illusions about his car number leading to more success, including his elusive first Cup win.

“At the end of the day is it going to make me go any faster?  No, probably not,” Elliott said Tuesday during a Goodyear tire test at Texas Motor Speedway. “Do I think it looks better?  Yes, I do. Is it my favorite number? Yes, it is.  Has it always been my favorite number? Yes, it has been. So, all those things are great. I’m very lucky and honored to carry the number that I’ve carried for a number of years before this year, so it’s like getting back home to me from that sense.

“But no, I don’t think it’s going to make me go any faster or slower.  I wish it did make us go faster.  I would love that, but unfortunately numbers don’t.”

The native of Dawsonville, Georgia, will make his 78th Cup start with the 60th Daytona 500 on Feb. 18. Even though he made it to the third round of the Cup playoffs last season, it was despite not earning a win. He came close twice in the playoffs, at Dover and Martinsville.

At Dover, he was passed by Kyle Busch for the lead coming to the white flag. Martinsville was the site of the now infamous run-in with Denny Hamlin, who hit Elliott and sent him into the wall as he led with two laps to go in the scheduled distance.

It led to a heated confrontation between the drivers.

Elliott got a bit of revenge two races later at Phoenix, when an aggressive battle saw Elliott force Hamlin into the outside wall, which resulted in a cut tire for Hamlin and an impact with the wall.

How will Elliott choose his battles in the looming season? He reiterated his mantra from last season that he’ll “race guys as they race me.”

“I mean I think it’s circumstantial,” Elliott said. “I think in life in general you can’t let people run over you and let them get away with it otherwise they are just going to keep doing it. I think that is just a part of life.  If you let somebody control you too much they are probably going to take advantage of you as it goes on. That happens in work places every day.  It happens in racing, I’m sure it happens in football, baseball, basketball, the whole deal.

” … I want to beat people the right way because I think at the end of the day racing people the right way and doing it with respect is probably going to make them more mad than it would if you did something dirty to get by them.”

With the retirement of former teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr., Elliott is now in the position of possibly being voted NASCAR’s most popular driver. Whoever gets the nod, they’ll be first new driver to win the recognition since Earnhardt began his 15-year stretch in 2003.

Entering his third full-time Cup season, Elliott said he’s not planning on changing who he is for the sake of others, especially when it comes to his social media presence.

“I’m not as active as a lot of people are on Twitter,” said Elliott, who has the eighth-most followers among Cup drivers on Twitter. “I think that is just because that is the way my personality is. I’m not going to jump out of the box of my personality to appease other people, never have been that way and I’m not going to be that way.  I have been very lucky to have had some great supporters over the past couple of years. … Look, I want people to if they want to pull for me or like me … because of who I am and the person I am and the way I carry myself.  If I’m not the right guy for somebody, then hey, there are 39 other people to choose from and I think that is your choice, so I will respect it either way.”

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