After a promising start to Thursday’s Alsco Uniforms 500-kilometer Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Matt DiBenedetto and the No. 21 Menards/Richmond team struggled with a loose handing condition for the remainder of the race and wound up with a 15th-place finish.
DiBenedetto started fourth when the line-up was set using a modified inversion of the finish of Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600, where he finished 17th.
On the start of Thursday’s 208-lap race, he pushed pole-sitter William Byron into the lead going into Turns One and Two then passed him for the lead down the backstretch.
He led the next nine laps then retook the top spot on the 11th lap for a total of 10 laps led. It was the second-straight race he’s been out front, the first being the six circuits he led in the Coca-Cola 600.
After losing the top spot DiBenedetto continued to keep pace with the front-runners and ended the first 55-lap Stage in third place, collecting eight Stage points.
But from then on to the finish, the loose handling conditions persisted, hampering his progress in a race that ended with a 59-lap green-flag run to the finish.
“The car got really loose, and with it being a short race we never really got a handle on it,” DiBenedetto said. “We worked on the car, but it just wasn’t responding to the adjustments we made.
“But it was good to lead the race, and the Stage points helped make our day not too bad. They saved us a little.”
DiBenedetto remains 11th in the Cup Series standings as and the No. 21 team head to Bristol Motor Speedway, one of his best tracks and where he finished second last fall driving for another team.
“I’m ready to go to a short track and get away from these mile-and-a-half tracks for a weekend,” he said.
Sunday’s Food City presents the Supermarket Heroes 500, for which there will be no practice or qualifying, is set to start just after 3:30 p.m. with TV coverage on FOX Sports One.