Editor’s note: Today’s Wood Brothers Racing preview continues NASCAR.com’s countdown of team previews for the NASCAR Cup Series season, ranked in order of best finish in last year’s owner standings.
WOOD BROTHERS RACING
Engine: Roush Yates
Driver: Matt DiBenedetto
Crew Chief: Greg Erwin
What’s new: With Paul Menard retiring after 16 years (13 full-time seasons) in the Cup Series, Matt DiBenedetto takes over the reigns in the iconic No. 21 car. Entering his sixth full season at NASCAR’s premier level, DiBenedetto proved his raw talent with a career year in 2019 and has emerged into a rising star.
Team strength: If the hype and momentum around the talented DiBenedetto is not enough to spark the No. 21 team this year, sitting on 99 Cup Series wins for Wood Brothers Racing might be. This year has a chance to be a record year for Wood Brothers and DiBenedetto, who still finds himself searching for his first series victory. The combination of these factors and a continued technical alliance with Team Penske will be significant motivation and should certainly be an organizational strength this season.
The Action Network Best Bet: I love the pairing of Wood Brothers and DiBenedetto. But like Ricky Stenhouse Jr., the question from a betting perspective is how much the market will as well. In a vacuum, DiBenedetto is an interesting betting option on concrete surfaces, as both he and Menard, who drove this car last year, had good runs at Bristol Motor Speedway and Dover International Speedway last season. – PJ Walsh
MATT DIBENEDETTO: NO. 21 FORD
2019 Stats: Three top fives, seven top 10s; highest finish of career in runner-up effort at Bristol
2020 Championship Odds: 40-1
Racing Insights Number to Know: Seven. Seven different drivers got their first Cup Series win while driving for Wood Brothers Racing – most recently, Trevor Bayne in the 2011 Daytona 500.
Fantasy Live Five: Bristol, Sonoma, Daytona, New Hampshire, Indianapolis
Outlook: Coming off of a personal record-setting year, DiBenedetto’s upward trend should provide a boost of momentum heading into his first season driving for Wood Brothers Racing. Among all of the drivers competing for their first Cup Series win, the 28-year old driver certainly has an exceptional chance to find himself in Victory Lane and achieve his first playoff berth in 2020.
NASCAR.com 2020 team previews schedule
Jan. 20: Teams outside the top 30
Jan. 21: Go Fas Racing
Jan. 22: Front Row Motorsports
Jan. 23: Richard Petty Motorsports
Jan. 24: Germain Racing
Jan. 27: Leavine Family Racing
Jan. 28: Richard Childress Racing
Jan. 29: JTG Daugherty Racing
Jan. 30: Wood Brothers Racing
Jan. 31: Roush Fenway Racing
Feb. 3: Hendrick Motorsports
Feb. 4: Chip Ganassi Racing
Feb. 5: Team Penske
Feb. 6: Stewart-Haas Racing
Feb. 7: Joe Gibbs Racing