DiBenedetto finishes 5th at Talladega | TheUnion.com

DiBenedetto finishes 5th at Talladega

Grass Valley native Matt DiBenedetto (21) took fifth place at the Geico 500 NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Talladega Superspeedway Sunday, in Talladega, Ala.
Associated Press

Matt DiBenedetto put forth his best showing of the season Sunday, but came up just short of winning his first NASCAR Cup Series race.

The Grass Valley native led 28 laps at the Gieco 500, including the next-to-last lap, but couldn’t hold on down the stretch and finished in fifth place at Talladega Superspeedway.

“It’s tough. It’s just all so circumstantial.” DiBenedetto said after the race. “Our day will come. I’m just lucky to drive this thing, and have the support from everybody. The fans are so awesome. Driving for Wood Brothers, it really is a dream come true. Gosh, it’s hard to be so close in so many of these things.”

Sunday’s top-five finish was the seventh of DiBenedetto’s career.

Brad Keselowski won the race with William Byron in second and Michael McDowell in third.

DiBenedetto, who drives the No. 21 Ford Mustang, had one of the top cars from the start, and won Stage 1 of the race, his first stage win of the season.

The seven-year NASCAR veteran earned 42 points for his effort at Talladega and currently sits 17th overall in the season points standings.

Next up for DiBenedetto and the NASCAR Cup Series is the Buschy McBusch Race 400 Sunday at Kansas Speedway.


Contact with another car, which caused a cut tire on his, severely hampered Alexander Rossi at Sunday’s Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

It was lap 37 when Rossi, a Nevada City native, had his tire sliced by the left-front wing of Graham Rahal’s car. The contact cost Rossi two laps as he attempted to restart his car and subsequently headed back to the pits for new tires.

Rossi, who drives the No. 27 car for NAPA AUTO PARTS/AutoNation Honda for Andretti Autosport, finished in 21st out of 24 drivers.

“I think frustration building in the past has cost us,” Rossi said. “The good thing is, the car is fast. That’s usually the harder problem to fix. It’s a lot different than last year when we were having these issues and didn’t have car speed.

“The car is quick this year, and at one point, things will line up for us.”

Fellow Andretti Autosport team member Colton Herta won the race, leading 97 out of 100 laps to claim the checkered flag.

Next up for the IndyCar Series is the Genesys 300 at Texas Motor Speedway. The race will be broadcast at 7 p.m. Saturday on NBCSN.


Two-time and defending World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series champ Brad Sweet had a tough weekend in Tennessee.

Sweet, who drives the No. 49 NAPA AUTO PARTS car for Kasey Kahne Racing, placed eighth in Friday’s feature race and took ninth in Sunday’s finale at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Sunday’s finish was only the second time through 15 races this season in which Sweet finished outside the top 10.

David Gravel won both races in Bristol and now has three wins on the season.

Sweet, a Grass Valley native, has a series best five race wins this season and remains atop the Series’ overall points leaderboard with 2,142. Gravel is second with 2,082.

The next stop on the World of Outlaws Sprint Car circuit is Thursday at the Jacksonville Speedway in Illinois.

To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email wford@theunion.com.


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