Wood Brothers Racing announces lineup for 2021 and beyond

LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 13: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Matt DiBenedetto (95) Leavine Family Racing Toyota Camry speaks with the media on September 13, 2019, prior to practice for the South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas, NV. (Photo by Will Lester/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Matty D finally got an answer.  Wood Brothers Racing announced Thursday that Matt DiBenedetto will return for another year to drive the famed No. 21.

DiBenedetto will make way after the 2021 season as Team Penske announced that will sign Austin Cindric to a contract extension and he will get behind the wheel in the No. 21 Wood Brothers car in the NASCAR Cup series starting in 2022.

Wood Brothers Racing has an alliance with Team Penske.  DiBenedetto has become a popular driver after working his way up through less than competitive teams and singing with the Wood Brothers for this year. Earlier this season DiBenedetto said the team had until the end of September to extend his contract.  That date came and went with no announcement.  Since signing with the team, DiBenedetto has scored two second place finishes and made this year’s Cup series Playoffs.  Next year will mark his seventh season at NASCAR’s highest level starting his career driving two seasons at Go Fas Racing and another two seasons for now-defunct BK Racing followed by one season driving for Leavine Family Racing in 2019.

DiBenedetto had feared he would be pushed aside to make room for Cindric; however Thursday’s announcement seems a good compromise.

“It’s such an honor to be able to continue to drive for Wood Brothers Racing and have another year to grow with this organization,” said DiBenedetto. “I am excited to learn from our 2020 notebook and I’m confident that with a full season under our belt and working together as a team, we will produce even better results. I also want to thank Ford Performance and Team Penske for their efforts in making this happen. These types of decisions take a lot of time, as we all know there are a lot of factors in play. All three groups want to make the best decisions for everyone involved and I’m appreciative to have the opportunity to continue to compete for such a legendary race team.”

For next season Cindric will again compete full time in the NASCAR Xfinity series. This season he as raced for Team Penske in the Xfinity series winning five races and winning the regular season championship.

“As we continue to position our team for future success, it is important to make sure Austin continues his development in the Xfinity Series with Team Penske,” said Roger Penske. “Austin has made great strides in recent years and he has become a consistent winner and a true championship contender this season. He will continue his natural progression and get some Cup Series experience in 2021. That will help him prepare for a full season in 2022 with the new NextGen car, racing the No. 21 Ford Mustang for Wood Brothers Racing.”

Cindric is currently positioned second in points following the second race of the NXS Playoffs last weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.

“This is a big step forward in my career long-term, and I am humbled and motivated by the opportunity and the confidence that Team Penske, Ford Performance, the Wood Brothers, and all of our partners have expressed in my abilities and my development as a driver,” said Cindric. “Every race car driver wants to advance in his career, and I can’t think of a better way to do that than on a clear path with Team Penske that will eventually lead to a full-time opportunity in the NASCAR Cup Series. I’m really excited for this next chapter in my development to continue working towards competing and trying to win at the highest level. Another season of experience in the Xfinity Series will be beneficial and I’m looking forward to competing in some Cup Series races in 2021 to prepare for a full season in 2022.”

Greg Engle