Auto racing roundup: Fans put DiBenedetto in All-Star Race
Grass Valley native Matt DiBenedetto came up just short of winning his way into the NASCAR All-Star Race, so his fans gave him the boost he needed.
DiBenedetto, who drives the No. 21 Mustang for Wood Brothers Racing, grabbed the lone remaining spot in Sunday afternoon’s $1 million All-Star Race by way of the fan vote after not qualifying earlier in the day through the All-Star Open.
“Thank you so much. That’s really cool,” DiBenedetto said when told he was the fan vote winner. “It means a lot to get the votes from the fans.”
Drivers become eligible for the All-Star Race if they have a points-race win to their credit in 2020 or 2021, have won a previous All-Star Race or have won a NASCAR Cup Series Championship. Other drivers can earn a spot in the race by way of a stage win in the All-Star Open, which proceeded the All-Star Race Sunday, or by way of the All-Star Fan Vote.
DiBenedetto nearly earned an All-Star Race bid via the All-Star Open. The seven-year NASCAR Cup Series veteran was in contention for the win in the third and final stage of the All-Star Open, but finished second behind Aric Almirola.
“Obviously we wanted to race our way in… but we were just a little off, battling some issues we just couldn’t overcome,” said DiBenedetto. “But, it’s so nice and we’re so thankful to have all the support from (the fans). It truly means a lot to me and my family.”
DiBenedetto started 21st on the grid in the All-Star Race, which was held at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. He was able to improve four spots for a 17th place finish.
Elk Grove native Kyle Larson won the 100-lap All-Star Race and the $1 million paycheck that comes with it. The victory was Larson’s third straight in the NASCAR Cup Series. He also took the checkered flags in Charlotte on May 30 and Sonoma on June 6. Larson is currently second in the Series’ overall points standings, 43 points behind Denny Hamlin. DiBenedetto is currently 17th in the overall points race.
Next up for DiBenedetto and the rest of the NASCAR Cup Series is the Ally 400, Sunday at Nashville Superspeedway. The race will be broadcast live at 12:30 p.m. on NBCSN.
Rossi races double-header at Belle Isle
Nevada City native Alexander Rossi matched his best showing of the season over the weekend, earning a seventh place finish at the IndyCar Grand Prix of Detroit on Saturday.
Rossi started the 70-lap race at Detroit’s Belle Isle road course in second, but ran into some bad luck on a caution and was shuffled back to the middle of the pack. Rossi responded with some impressive passes in the waning laps of the race to move into seventh.
For Rossi, who drives the No. 27 Honda for Andretti Autosport, it was his fourth top-10 finish in eight races this season. His other seventh place finish came at the GMR Grand Prix on May 15.
Marcus Ericsson went on to win Saturday’s race, his first-ever on the IndyCar circuit.
It was a double-header weekend for IndyCar, so Rossi was back in the driver’s seat at Belle Isle on Sunday.
Rossi was among the leaders early in race number two, but contact made with another car caused damage to his, forcing him to pit and lose valuable track position. He would go on to finish 13th.
“Compared to today, yesterday wasn’t that bad. On to Road America,” Rossi said through his Facebook account.
Pato O’Ward won Sunday’s race, becoming the first IndyCar driver with two wins this season. O’Ward sits atop the IndyCar Overall points standings, one point ahead of Alex Palou. Rossi is 14th overall.
Next up for Rossi and the IndyCar Series is the Rev Group Grand Prix, Sunday at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. The race starts at 9 a.m. and will be broadcast live on NBCSN.
Sweet battles it out at Brownells Big Gun Bash
Two time and defending World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series champion Brad Sweet spent the weekend competing at the Brownells Big Gun Bash in Iowa.
Sweet, a Grass Valley native, opened the doubleheader at Knoxville Raceway with a sixth place finish on Friday night, and followed it with a 16th place finish Saturday night.
Fellow California native Carson Macedo, of Leemore, won both races.
Sweet, who has nine wins in the No. 49 NAPA Auto Parts car this season, remains atop the Series’ overall points standings with 4,188.
Next up for Sweet is a Friday race at Dubuque Fairgrounds Speedway in Dubuque, Iowa. He then heads to Beaver Dam, Wisconsin for the Jim “JB” Boyd Memorial race on Saturday.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email firstname.lastname@example.org
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