Ford Performance NASCAR: Sonoma (Matt DiBenedetto Media Availability)

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)

Toyota/Save Mart 350 (Sonoma Raceway; Sonoma, CA)

Friday, June 22, 2018

 

Matt DiBenedetto, driver of the No. 32 Hartford Gold Group Ford Fusion is making his fourth career Sonoma start this weekend. DiBenedetto spoke about the experiences he has gained and other topics after the conclusion of opening practice at the road course.

 

MATT DIBENEDETTO, No. 32 Hartford Gold Group Ford Fusion — WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM YOUR PREVIOUS RACES HERE THAT WILL IMPACT YOUR STRATEGY OR SUNDAY? “A lot. Preferably keeping all four tires on the asphalt for most of the race is a big one. If you can do that and put together a smooth race and have good pit strategy that is a big deal here. Fuel strategy, pit strategy and obviously I have plenty of seat time around here now that I don’t have to go through some of the learning curve that some of the younger guys may have to go through. You just learn little bits about the strategy that can put you in position to be there at the end.”

 

DENNY HAMLIN WAS JUST IN HERE PLEADING WITH EVERYBODY WITHIN THE INDUSTRY TO NOT ANSWER THE HATERS THAT HAVE 16 FOLLOWERS AND THEN WE PUMP IT OUT TO A FEW MILLION PEOPLE. YOU HAVE A LOT OF FUN ON TWITTER, WHY HAVE YOU TAKEN TO THAT AND WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO DO WHEN YOU HAVE THAT KIND OF FUN ON YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA? “People say things which are big compliments to me like I am a kind of social media or rock social media. Those are great compliments to me and I appreciate people saying that. It is funny because I am active on social media but none of my stuff is planned. Basically I want people to feel like they are friends with me on social media. My plan for all my social media is to have no plan. Having no plan I guess works out. In the end it keeps all my stuff natural and organic and I just want to share my life with people, whether it is my funny side of messing with my wife or pranking her or the fun things we will do at home like the good positive things like this past week. I shared a video everybody of something that got brought to my attention of a kid who is a family friend of ours who has muscular dystrophy and I am trying to raise the rest of the money for him to have a wheelchair on tracks to go outdoors so he can do the things he has a passion for. I try to share the fun side, things that spread a positive message and try to help people. On top of that I have my serious and competitive side where I work my whole life to do this and this is my only passion, racing. It goes well sharing all those things.”

 

WHAT IS THE FUNNIEST THING YOU FEEL YOU HAVE EVER POSTED OR MAYBE GOT YOU IN THE MOST HOT WATER? “The one that – it didn’t necessarily get me in hot water or anything but it got the most backlash maybe is when I post anything about Kyle Busch. Good, bad or indifferent. I like Kyle a lot and I have actually become a big fan of his because I like his personality for the sport. I’ve said something like, ‘Not that I would act that way.’ People take that and go crazy and I get backlash for that. But I am a fan of his. If I tell people that I think he is great for the sport and I love his personality then I get backlash too. People either die hard love or hate Kyle Busch. Me personally, I am a fan of him because I like anyone that just shows their emotion and are true to themselves and that is who he is. I have posted a couple things about Kyle and sometimes I am like, ‘Oh, let’s see what reaction this gets.’ Sometimes I just say things like he is good for the sport and I get, ‘Oh, screw you Matt.’ Those are the funniest ones.”

 

DID YOU WANT TO SEE THE ALL-STAR PACKAGE IN OTHER RACES THIS YEAR? “Speaking of questions that could get me in hot water. Leave it to Bob. Nah, I am just kidding. It is a good question. Personally, just strictly as a driver, I liked the All-Star race. If we did it once a year at the All-Star race every year where it is short segments and the field won’t get broken up and things like that, then I think it is fun as a one-off deal. If we had to do it at these regular races, like long races, had to go that slow on a consistent basis then absolutely not. Kyle Larson said it best. It was fun for the All-Star race but I wouldn’t want to go that slow all the time. At the end of the day you want to see the driver talent mean the absolute most. The All-Star race was perfect for that. If it were me, I would want the car to have 1,000 horsepower and no downforce and be impossible to drive because then I know that no yo-yo from the Truck Series or some new guy could hop in my race car and go the same speed that I can. I want the Cup cars at the premier level to take as much talent as they can possibly take to drive. That is me personally. The All-Star race was great. Kudos to NASCAR. It was amazing how well of a race it put on for being on such short notice. On a consistent basis, no, I want them to be very hard to drive at the Cup level.”

 

HOW MUCH MORE ARE ROAD COURSE RACES ABOUT THE DRIVER THAN THE CAR? “I would say it is hard to give a percentage. All the drivers in the Cup Series are all very good. I feel like the road courses you can not so much make up for a lack of car but you can be very consistent and have smooth shifts and lay a lot of very consistent laps down and you can outrace some people there. The driver can make maybe 10 or 20% more difference maybe at a road course than on another track. You can’t really crank a whole ton of speed out of it. David Ragan was in an MWR car and was telling me that he was running like fifth a handful of years back and then the next year he was with BK and he was 25th. He wasn’t driving the car any different. I don’t think you can make up for lack of speed in the race car but you can put together a smart race and keep your nose clean. People will be tearing fenders off. It is like a short track. You can do a lot of things with how you put your race together from beginning to end and be smart and have a better result than at an oval track.”

 

THIS TRACK IS ALWAYS DESCRIBED AS BEING TECHNICAL AND WATKINS GLEN ALL ABOUT SPEED. WHAT ARE YOUR STRENGTHS HERE ON THIS PARTICULAR TRACK? “I grew up racing short tracks with a lot of bumping and banging. That is my background. Racing a stock car at a very choppy technical road course that races like a short track fits my driving style because I am okay with the bumping and banging and moving people out of the way. I feel like that is fun and brings me back to the feeling of my old short track days where we were all bumper to bumper and there isn’t a straight panel on the car after the race. That is always fun. My weaknesses here would be that I have an Italian temper. I try to keep cool during the race but it is very easy for a lot of us to lose our cool with people blocking you and moving you out of the way. It is hard not to crash people back. You have to save those things for the end with as mad as you can get. Tempers can flare big time here.”

 

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON ADDING MORE ROAD RACING INTO THE SCHEDULE? “I think it is fun. It is going to be a cool change when we go to the Roval at Charlotte. I love going to some of these road courses. I have always wished that Mid-Ohio or Road America was added into the Cup schedule because road courses are so much fun. It is fun to have a few of them. Three out of the season is nothing overbearing or anything like that. I think all of us – I don’t want to speak for everybody – but I think most guys enjoy going to a road course occasionally. I am excited to have another one in the schedule as a change of pace for us.”

 

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