Editor’s note: Matt DiBenedetto will join the Motor Racing Network booth as a guest analyst of Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series DC Solar 200 (4 p.m. ET) at ISM Raceway in Phoenix.
In a whirlwind day that showcased the tightly knit fabric of the NASCAR community, outreach of support for Matt DiBenedetto prior to the race weekend at ISM Raceway also underscored his growing reputation in the garage.
DiBenedetto received a wave of positive feedback after reaching out to his followers on social media with a first-person video explaining Go Fas Racing’s sponsor situation for the No. 32 Ford Fusion in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race.
In a gamble that ended up paying off for DiBenedetto, Zynga Poker got wind of the video and has come on board as the primary sponsor for the race weekend in Phoenix. There also is additional opportunity for other potential sponsors to work with the team throughout the 2018 season.
The video also culminated into generous support from fellow competitors Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick, along with retired three-time champion Darrell Waltrip who all pledged money.
“It’s been a crazy couple of days and very unexpected I guess to say the least,” DiBenedetto told NASCAR.com. “We figured why not reach out as a last-second little effort and who knows what could happen. The power of social media can be crazy, and sure enough, it actually blew our minds. Getting the support of Denny Hamlin starting the wave of tremendous support and that led into it just spreading like wildfire.”
We hate doing this, but we are UNSPONSORED as of right now for @ISMRaceway this weekend! If you or anyone you know has the ability to help us connect with a business interested in coming on board this weekend please contact the @GoFasRacing32 page ASAP! pic.twitter.com/3hbFnTBBqI
— Matt DiBenedetto (@mattdracing) March 6, 2018
DiBenedetto said Hamlin, Harvick and Waltrip are all drivers for whom he has a great deal of respect. He has gone to them in the past for advice, which made their support that much more meaningful.
The trio are just a handful of NASCAR drivers who have taken notice of DiBenedetto’s talents on the single-car team.
Very good driver here that deserves being on the track. Any company would be represented well on his car. https://t.co/cyQCui9Apv
— Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) March 6, 2018
Damn good job buddy. You/your team is something that doesn’t get near the exposure in our sport that you all deserve. Nice solid day again. https://t.co/fMwOKu6bBZ
— Kyle Larson (@KyleLarsonRacin) March 5, 2018
“For them to have that much respect for me made just kind of sit in silence for a while on my drive home from the race shop,” said DiBenedetto. “I needed to just sit there in silence just overwhelmed and darn near about to tear up over those guys having that amount for respect for me, understanding my fight to get to where I am and understanding how much I care about our sport as a whole. For them to see that and appreciate that was really way beyond overwhelming. I’m not very emotional typically, but yesterday I was.”
So emotional, in fact, the acts of kindness and gravity of the situation admittedly moved DiBenedetto to tears.
“I hate to admit it, but I did tear up on my drive home just sitting in silence,” he said. “So, yes, I would normally not admit that, but just because I have so much respect for those drivers. Those are some of the folks that I go to for any advice because — Denny, Kevin, Darrell, those are guys that are going to tell you the way it is. They have been around for a long time in our sport. I kind of took it as they understand my passion for the sport and I think they feel like I would be a good part of the future for the sport.
“That means a lot to me because my ultimate goal is to be in a position to be winning races in this sport and make a big impact on NASCAR.”
— Denny Hamlin (@dennyhamlin) March 6, 2018
Boogity Brands is in for $5,000 where do I send the check!!! https://t.co/NOp8kZnvr4
— Darrell Waltrip (@AllWaltrip) March 6, 2018
— Kevin Harvick (@KevinHarvick) March 6, 2018
The video was a last-ditch, spur-of-the-moment effort to support his team, which has experienced shades of success so far this season after running up front in the closing laps of the Daytona 500 and finishing a solid 22nd at Las Vegas, beating out some of the bigger teams in the process.
“It was interesting and overwhelming for us because we got to experience how many smaller companies want to be involved in NASCAR,” DiBenedetto said. “So we kind of have a different market that it opened our eyes to, like we may need to change our approach. We’re kind of the blue-collar small race team and we may be able to align ourselves with some of the blue-collar smaller businesses, as well. It brought a lot of ideas to our minds.
“Our company is stable, that was the main point I wanted to reiterate to everyone before it all spread like wildfire.”
Thank you bud! I hope to be a part of the sport for many more years to come https://t.co/vqmjcot0Jh
— Matt DiBenedetto (@mattdracing) March 7, 2018