DiBenedetto

NASCAR Cup driver Matt DiBenedetto helps fix catfish for a media lunch Thursday at Talladega Superspeedway.

This week, Paul Menard announced he is hanging up his helmet and retiring from full-time NASCAR driving after a 13-year career in the sport’s top series. Although he spent most of his career with other teams, he’s retiring from Wood Brothers Racing, which he joined last season. Wood Brothers announced they are bringing in Matt DiBenedetto, who will be leaving Leavine Family Racing, to take over for Menard. This a good move for Wood Brothers, and an even better move for DiBenedetto.

Like LFR, Wood Brothers is a small team that only races one driver for the season. The team has helped jump-start the careers of some of the sports biggest names — Cale Yarborough and David Pearson, for example. Wood Brothers has racked up 100 NASCAR Cup Series victories, including five at the Daytona 500, since Hall of Famer Glenn Wood started the team in 1950. There is a reason why Wood Brothers is NASCAR’s oldest team. The team also has a technical partnership with Penske Racing, which itself has two drivers’ championships under its belt.

Before Wood Brothers came calling for DiBenedetto to take over the team’s No. 21 Ford Mustang, “Guido” found himself without a ride for his sixth season in the Cup Series. I get it,  racing is a dog-eat-dog sport where the weakest drivers get cut. LFR must not have had much faith in DiBenedetto — the team’s only driver — and decided they could bring in someone better. They are basically going into rebuilding mode

Although his future in the sport was uncertain until this week, this is a good situation for DiBenedetto to be in. He gets the opportunity to prove himself with a team that is financially stable and is partners with one of the sports’ hottest teams. I think he will be playoff bound next season for Wood Brothers, and may catch the eye of Penske, or one of NASCAR’s other major teams.

Contact Anniston Star copy Editor Timothy Cash at tcash@annistonstar.com.

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