Matt DiBenedetto and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane team battled back from damage on an early pit stop to score a 14th-place finish in Sunday’s Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
It was DiBenedetto’s best Homestead finish in six career starts, but he was hoping for more after a strong showing in the early going.
DiBenedetto started 23rd and had moved up to 14th place when the competition caution flag was displayed at Lap 22.
During the ensuing pit stop the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Mustang incurred damage to the left-front fender in a chain-reaction incident on pit road.
After repairs to the No. 21 Mustang, DiBenedetto restarted 38th and was facing a tall order to the remain on the lead lap.
But he soon began turning laps as fast as the lead pack and worked his way up to 26th place at the end of the first 80-lap Stage, easily remaining on the lead lap.
In Stage Two, he continued to work his way through the field, and was up to 17th place by Lap 117, and was inside the top 15 after a mid-stage green-flag pit stop. He wound up 13th at the end of the second Stage.
The opening laps of the final Stage saw DiBenedetto move up into the top 10 briefly with 90 laps remaining, but he slipped back a bit as the laps wound down, and his 14th-place finish dropped him one spot in the Cup Series points standings to 14th place.
Eddie Wood said that overall it was a solid performance by the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team.
“They were pretty good through most of the race, and did a good job of gaining back the positions they lost because of the damage on pit road,” Wood said. “They turned some fast laps and stayed on the lead lap.
“The car was a little tight, so they loosened it up at the end, and kind of lost the handle.
“We’ll take it and move on to Talladega.”
The No. 21 Mustang will carry the colors of Quick Lane for next Sunday’s GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.