Chris Graythen | Getty Images
Chris Graythen | Getty Images

DiBenedetto hopes to stick with Wood Brothers, Penske ‘for many years to come’

Matt DiBenedetto said Wednesday that he expected contract negotiations with Wood Brothers Racing to resume soon, expressing optimism for continuing his career with the No. 21 Ford for the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series.

DiBenedetto’s remarks came during the first of two media days for the Cup Series playoff field. The 29-year-old journeyman qualified for the postseason for the first time in his career, securing the 16th and final playoff berth on the basis of points.

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“Yeah, it is funny, we have talked about that. I hadn’t even brought it up or talked about it because the focus was so much of just making the playoffs, which I am so glad we did for the team,” DiBenedetto said. “Obviously I love driving for the Wood Brothers and our alliance with Team Penske is incredible and a place I want to call home for many years to come. I am sure we will get to that.

“My contract has options built in for multiple years and they expressed that they wanted this to be a relationship for many years to come so I would expect to have those talks here pretty soon to hopefully do what I assume should be continuing to drive this 21 car.”

DiBenedetto is in his first season with the venerable Wood Brothers team, entering the Cup Series Playoffs as the 16th seed. He has scored two top-five finishes, including matching his career-best of second place earlier this year at Las Vegas.

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DiBenedetto related some of the pressures of making the postseason cut in last Saturday’s regular-season finale, saying that nerves began to wear for both him and his wife, Taylor. But DiBenedetto said that the Wood family helped to relieve some of the tension, saying they supported him regardless of the outcome.

“I would say that this week has been a release,” DiBenedetto said. “It was so stressful and kept getting more stressful leading up to Daytona and the points closed in and we lost the gap that we had and all that. I would call this week exciting and we got to celebrate with some friends out on the lake Sunday and have a good time but come Monday it was time to shift focus and we still have a lot of racing left and a lot to accomplish. It was a relief and exciting moving forward now instead of stressful.

“Exciting knowing that we have an opportunity to really put a good end to our season and cap it off and have a lot more success. I am pretty pumped up about that and I am appreciative to be doing it for the Wood Brothers.”

DiBenedetto has been a Cup Series regular since 2015, spending two years each with BK Racing and Go Fas Racing before last year’s one-season stop at Leavine Family Racing.