Matt DiBenedetto continues his job search at Darlington

ELKHART LAKE, WISCONSIN - AUGUST 23: Matt DiBenedetto, driver of the #18 iK9 Toyota, walks to his car during practice for the NASCAR Xfinity Series CTECH Manufacturing 180 at Road America on August 23, 2019 in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Another race weekend means another audition for driver Matt DiBenedetto.

But that’s nothing new. That has always been DiBenedetto’s mind-set.

DiBenedetto learned recently that Leavine Family Racing would not be picking up his option for 2020. On Aug. 17 at Bristol Motor Speedway, in his first race since receiving the bad news, DiBenedetto finished second after surrendering the lead to Denny Hamlin with 11 laps left.

That strong performance was a great addition to the resume, but DiBenedetto has yet to find a seat for next season.

“I got a lot of like really nice, encouraging texts and stuff from a lot of fellow drivers and such, so that was really neat and encouraging,” DiBenedetto said of the Bristol aftermath. “Nothing in particular. Just keeping all options open.”

DiBenedetto has 12 races left in the No. 95 LFR Toyota, and that means 12 more chances to showcase his talent. That doesn’t mean, however, that he’ll be doing things differently.

“I drive the same really any race under any circumstances,” said DiBenedetto, who was fifth fastest in Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice. “At Bristol, some people were like, ‘Oh, did you drive different there?’ and I’m like, ‘No, it doesn’t make a difference.’ When I strap in the car, I’m 100 percent every single lap I’m on the race track, no matter what.

“I’ve learned that lesson and been that way a long time. I always feel like I’m auditioning every time I climb in a race car for basically my whole life. That’s nothing any different, but I want to win for this team really, really bad, because it would be really special to get their first win for the team.”

Greg Engle