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NASCAR on NBC podcast, Ep. 92: Matt DiBenedetto on making a name for himself

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Go Fas Racing driver Matt DiBenedetto was a recent guest of the NASCAR on NBC podcast, offering why he believes he can become a fan favorite like friend Dale Earnhardt Jr.

“I think I’ve had to go about my whole racing career on such a difficult path and the old school way, it makes me appreciate it way more,” DiBenedetto said on the podcast. “The fans have been a big part of me getting here and getting sponsors and embracing my story. I do appreciate them way more.

“It’s not that hard to just have fun with them. Not knocking anybody, but I look up to someone like Dale Jr. because he’s just genuine, he’s himself. That’s all you really need to do, you don’t need to act like someone different. Just be your normal old self. They’re just people. You don’t need to act like a huge celebrity and just fly by them. All I do is have fun with them, be different, take videos with them. They love that stuff.”

The Grass Valley, California, native is among the more creative and proactive drivers on social media across multiple platforms, including Earnhardt in some of his Snaps.

DiBenedetto believes his savvy will set him apart with more success.

“That’s why I have that vision that I know I can be a fan favorite,” he said. “I’m not going to fill Dale Jr.’s shoes. But I feel like if I’m in a position to win races, and we have that kind of media attention, I feel like I can darn near take over the world because it’s all about being different, and I’m different than other people.”

Earnhardt often jokes with DiBenedetto about the pronunciation of his last name (and had fun with it on his team radio last year, leading to a SiriusXM Satellite Radio clip that DiBenedetto reacts to during the podcast). But the Hendrick Motorsports driver also has been an asset, promoting DiBenedetto as among NASCAR’s most underrated drivers.

“I’ll mess with (Earnhardt), ‘Hey since you think so much of me, go ahead and put me in the 88,’” DiBenedetto joked. “Tony Stewart also has helped me and given me advice. It’s cool to have all these people on your side, so if you need to lean on them for advice or favors or help, that’s not going to hurt in the long run in my career.”

In the podcast, DiBenedetto also discusses:

–His underfunded team’s top 10s in the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400;

–The gamble by his family to relocate to Hickory, North Carolina, to give him a shot at a racing career;

–What life is like on the road for one of the only full-time Cup drivers without a motorhome.

You can listen to the podcast by clicking on the AudioBoom embed below or download and subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts by clicking here.

It also is available on Stitcher by clicking here and also can be found on Google Play, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

The free subscriptions will provide automatic downloads of new episodes to your smartphone.

Kurt Busch on contract status beyond 2018: ‘we’ll see how it all comes together’

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LOUDON, N.H. — Former champion Kurt Busch said Friday that he’s focused on his performance on the track even though his contract ends after this season.

“For me, I’ve just been racing, driving and performing, doing all the things I can do to exceed in all categories, whether it’s teammate things, things on the track … communication with (crew chief) Billy Scott,” Busch said after winning the pole at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

“I don’t know many drivers that have a primary sponsor with them. Monster Energy has been very loyal to me. It’s just a matter of when the time is to start talking about a contract. Last year, it went long just because I felt I deserved more. The landscape is changing in NASCAR on primary sponsorship values, teams with the purse and the guarantee that they get off the historical performance. There are a lot of things that move, so we’ll see how it all comes together.”

MORE: Stewart-Haas Racing makes pit crew changes

MORE: Martin Truex Jr. laments sponsor leaving after this year

Last year, Stewart-Haas Racing declined the option on Busch’s contact when there were questions about if Monster Energy would return as a primary sponsor. After that was settled, Busch signed a one-year contract with the team. The deal was announced Dec. 12.

This is Busch’s fifth season with Stewart-Haas Racing. He’s won five races, including the 2017 Daytona 500 with the team. He has made the playoffs each year with SHR.

Busch’s pole Friday was his third of the year. He has yet to win a race this season but has 10 top-10 finishes.

“When you go to a track that you have good vibes about and with the team doing well, it gives you that feeling like you’re a step ahead and you just have to execute with confidence and not get too far off expecting good things to happen,” Busch said. “Just go out there and do your job and that’s what we’re doing right now and it’s great to have the pole with the 41 car.”

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Starting lineup for New Hampshire Cup race

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Kurt Busch and Martin Truex Jr. will start from the front row in Sunday’s Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (2 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Busch starts from the pole position for the third time this season and the first time at New Hampshire.

The top five is completed by Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Blaney.

Alex Bowman in eighth and Daniel Suarez in ninth earned their best starting position at New Hampshire.

Kevin Harvick missed the final round of qualification and starts 14th.

Click here for the complete starting lineup.

Kurt Busch wins pole at New Hampshire Motor Speedway

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Kurt Busch posted a lap of 133.591 mph in the final round of qualification for the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and will lead the field to green on Sunday. Busch was the only Stewart-Haas Racing driver to advance to the final round.

This is Busch’s first pole at New Hampshire, but he has started on the front row twice before – most recently in July, 2013. He finished 31st in that race and was 21st after starting second in July, 2007.

He beat Martin Truex Jr. (133.502 mph) by .019 seconds.

Kyle Busch (133.431), Denny Hamlin (133.361) and Ryan Blaney (132.720) round out the top five.

Alex Bowman (132.618) had the fastest Chevrolet in eighth. This is his best New Hampshire start in his seventh race.

Kevin Harvick (132.554) failed to advance to the final round and posted the 14th fastest time.

Kyle Larson (132.039) failed to back up his practice speed. He had the third fastest car in that session, but failed to make the final round and qualified 20th.

Last year, Kyle Busch won from the pole for the first time since Ryan Newman did so in the July 2011.This is Busch’s first pole at New Hampshire, but he has started on the front row twice before – most recently in 2013. He finished 31st in that race and was 21st after starting second in 2007.

Daniel Suarez  (132.581) in ninth earned his best New Hampshire start in three tries.

NASCAR America at 6 p.m. ET: Today’s action from New Hampshire

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 6-7 p.m. ET on NBCSN and gets a jump on this weekend’s racing at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Carolyn Manno hosts with Parker Kligerman in Stamford, Connecticut.

On today’s show:

  • The New Hampshire race weekend is off and running. Carolyn and Parker have complete coverage following today’s practices and Monster Energy Series qualifying from Loudon.
  • They will get reaction from several drivers, including the one who will start from the pole in Sunday’s race.
  • Plus, New England native Parker Kligerman jumps in the NBC Sports iRacing simulator to show us the challenges of racing the Magic Mile.
  • Nate Ryan of NBCSports.com examines the dominance of NASCAR’s Big 3 of Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch.
If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch it online at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 6 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.