Roger Penske Gave Matt DiBenedetto “One More Season” at Wood Brothers

Published 07/23/2021, 6:12 AM EDT
AVONDALE, ARIZONA – NOVEMBER 08: Matt DiBenedetto, driver of the #21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford, drives during the NASCAR Cup Series Season Finale 500 at Phoenix Raceway on November 08, 2020 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)


In a recent conversation with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, Roger Penske spoke about Matt DiBenedetto. He revealed that the Team Penske outfit “made it clear” to him last year he had just ‘one more season’. His job was to “build his brand” and then the team would “move on” from him.

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In essence, this means that DiBenedetto is on borrowed time and is desperate to look for a drive. At the age of 29, he is in the prime of his career and will be a decent asset for any team. However, he is clearly not part of Team Penske’s plans, nor in Wood Brothers’ plans.

This is because Xfinity driver Harrison Burton is being promoted up the Cup Series and will drive the #21 car. On an interesting note, Austin Cindric was initially destined for the #21 seat, so Matt DiBenedetto was leaving either way. However, Brad Keselowski threw a curveball when he announced his move to Roush Fenway Racing.

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What does this mean for Matt DiBenedetto?

Keselowski’s move opened up a spot, but Cindric was quickly moved to take his place in the #2 car. It should have meant that DiBenedetto was safe for another year.

However, Wood Brothers and Team Penske had other ideas and roped in Burton instead. So this leaves poor old DiBenedetto and Ryan Newman without any driver for the coming season.

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FORT WORTH, TEXAS – OCTOBER 28: Matt DiBenedetto, driver of the #21 Menards/Richmond Ford, drives during the NASCAR Cup Series Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Of course, neither driver will take this lying down and will be highly motivated this year. In essence, they will treat the rest of the races as an impromptu audition.

Both Newman and DiBenedetto are eager for teams to pick them up for the coming 2022 season. Considering that 2022 sees the introduction of the Next Gen cars, they know that it will be all the more important.

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If they are forced to sit out for a year and try to get back in 2023, they could be at a disadvantage. This is because their rivals will have had a year’s experience with the new car and will know the cars better than them.

DIVE DEEPER

“It Does Suck”- Matt DiBenedetto Opens Up on Losing his #21 Ride Next Year

2 months ago

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Dhruv George

12003 articles

Dhruv George is a senior Formula One and NASCAR analyst for EssentiallySports, having authored nearly 12000 articles spanning different sports like F1, NASCAR, Tennis, NFL, and eSports. He graduated with a PG Diploma in Journalism from the Xavier Institute of Communications. Dhruv has also conducted interviews with F1 driver Pierre Gasly and Moto2 rider Tony Arbolino.

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