NASCAR America: Matt DiBenedetto holds head high after 16th at Richmond

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Matt DiBenedetto joined Kyle Petty and Marty Snider at the Big Oak Table in NASCAR America’s Charlotte studio and relived his 16th-place finish in the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway.

“When we run 16th – with no attrition; we just flat out-raced Hendrick cars … RCR cars and Penske cars, the list goes on and on – we do that, we can hold our head high,” DiBenedetto said.

DiBenedetto was one of 23 drivers who finished on the lead lap last week, which meant he had to beat some big budget teams.

“If we’re going by budget and pure numbers, we stack up 32nd, -3rd, -4th,” DiBenedetto. “But we have really good people. We may not have a lot of people, but we have some really good people.

“We had a nice, smooth weekend and outraced a lot of people that in theory, if you’re going by budget, we definitely shouldn’t. It makes us proud because it makes other people, probably a little mad, as they see the 32 car going by, knowing that we run on a sixth of the budget of the guys we were driving by.”

DiBenedetto’s last three races have ended in finishes of 16th at Texas Motor Speedway, 21st at Bristol Motor Speedway and 16th at Richmond.

For more on DiBenedetto’s strong Richmond finish, watch the above video.

Elliott Sadler announces end of full-time NASCAR career after 2018

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Elliott Sadler announced in a statement on Twitter Wednesday morning he has decided to make 2018 his final full-time season in NASCAR competition.

Sadler, who turned 43 in April, made the announcement with 12 races left in the Xfinity Series.

The news comes after the JR Motorsports driver revealed in June that his primary sponsor, OneMain Financial, wouldn’t return in the same capacity next season.

Sadler has competed in NASCAR since making his Xfinity Series debut in 1995 at South Boston Speedway.

Since then he’s made 841 starts across all three national series.

In 12 full-time seasons in Cup, he earned three wins, 19 top fives and eight poles. He best point result was ninth in 2004.

This year is his 10th full-time Xfinity season. To date he’s earned 13 wins, 102 top fives and 18 poles in 383 starts.

Sadler will attempt to close out his full-time career with his first NASCAR championship. He’s placed second four times, including the previous two seasons spent with JRM.

With 12 races left he is second in the point standings and sixth on the playoff grid.

Read his statement below.

NASCAR America: Jeff Burton, Kyle Petty on criticism of Kyle Larson’s love of dirt racing

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In January, Kyle Larson caused a minor stir when he admitted that winning midget racing’s Chili Bowl would be a bigger deal for him than a victory in the Daytona 500.

The fallout of that statement was on hand last weekend at Michigan International Speedway on the eve of the Knoxville Nationals, one of sprint racing’s biggest events.

Larson claimed he was going to “just keep my mouth shut” about any potential success about the event held the Saturday night before the Cup race at Michigan.

On NASCAR America, Jeff Burton, Kyle Petty and Carolyn Manno had a lengthy discussion about Larson’s comments and whether drivers in a premier auto racing series should compete in other disciplines.

“I was a little offended for him saying the Chili Bowl was bigger than NASCAR’s biggest race,” Burton conceded. “But when I step back, me personally, I think the Southern 500 is the biggest race of the year. That’s no disrespect to the Daytona 500. I never won the Daytona 500. If you ask me which race do I wish I would have won, that’s the one because it’s so prestigious and it means so much. … I think when you are racing and this is your primary racing … and then you say there’s another series you’d rather win a race in, I think some NASCAR fans did get offended by it and to be honest I understand why.”

Burton added, “He’s still here. If he didn’t want to do it, he wouldn’t be doing it.”

Petty believes friction over Larson’s love of dirt racing stems from the collision of generations of fans and fans of different racing disciplines.

“You see guys coming in who dreamed of going to (Indianapolis Motor Speedway), that dreamed of running sprint cars, that dreamed of doing some totally different,” Petty said. “Where I grew up dreaming of the Daytona 500. That’s been in our blood and that’s in the DNA of what this sport is. You expect, as a fan, your driver to come in and say, ‘Tell you what, the Daytona 500, Darlington, the Coca-Cola 600, those are races I want to win.’ So I think we have a bias, or the fans have a bias sometimes, against the guy that didn’t come in and dream about being here all the time and I think that’s wrong. Because at heart, Kyle Larson is a racer. At heart, Tony Stewart, he didn’t dream about coming to Daytona, he dreamed about going down the road and winning at Indianapolis. Jeff Gordon did the same thing.”

Watch the above video for more.

NASCAR America: Scan All from Michigan International Speedway

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It was another Cup race and another win for Kevin Harvick Sunday at Michigan International Speedway.

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver scored his series leading seventh win of the season after sweeping each stage.

Relive the race with the latest edition of Scan All from NASCAR America.

Here are some highlights.

Watch the above video for more.

PRN reporter Wendy Venturini to return at Bristol, still recovering from injuries

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Wendy Venturini will return to her duties at the Performance Racing Network this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, almost two months after being struck by a car while running in Novato, California.

Venturini made the announcement in a surprise appearance Tuesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “Tradin’ Paint.”

She had been in California to be a pit reporter for PRN’s radio broadcast of the Cup race at Sonoma Raceway.

Among the injuries Venturini suffered in the incident were a skull fracture and a concussion.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Venturini said of the upcoming race weekend. “It’s been a long two months and I’m not 100 percent, but I’m getting closer and closer and this is step back into real life and real world stuff. So I think it will help in my recovery.”

Venturini is still wearing a knee brace.

“I’m still pretty slow these days, but it’s good,” Venturini said. “I will have a brace on at the race track in a controlled circumstance. I can take it off at night, at home. … It’s healing. My LCL is healing, my brain is healing, my skull is healing. Everything’s taking progress.”

Venturini became the first female to serve as a co-anchor for a NASCAR Cup race in September 2014 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. She also has served as a booth analyst for PRN broadcasts this season.

Venturini became the first female broadcaster to call an entire race on a national level during the July 2007 Cup race at Sonoma Raceway for DirecTV. She also has reported on NASCAR for Speed Channel and Fox Sports 1.