Racing roundup: DiBenedetto continues late season surge
With another strong effort on the track, NASCAR Cup Series driver Matt DiBenedetto continued his late-season push for a playoff spot.
Competing at Michigan International Speedway for the FireKeepers Casino 400 on Sunday, DiBenedetto started fourth, led one lap and finished in sixth place.
“P6 today…had a really fast Mustang!” DiBenedetto said in a social media post. “Had to overcome adversity and fight back at the end and that makes it 6 races in a row where our WORST finish is 11th. That is 100% credit to my whole team. @jhass_03 and our whole group have really clicked together. Chasing that win!”
The Grass Valley native has been surging the past two months, finishing 10th at Road America (July 4), ninth at Atlanta (July 11), 11th at New Hampshire (July 18), 11th at Watkins Glen (Aug. 8) and fifth at Indianapolis’ road course (Aug. 15).
Ryan Blaney won the FireKeepers Casino 400. William Byron was second and Kyle Larson, of Elk Grove, was third.
DiBenedetto, who drives the No. 21 Ford Mustang for Wood Brothers Racing, currently sits in 18th in the overall points standings, and needs a win to earn a spot in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. The top 16 drivers advance to the playoffs, which start Sept. 5 at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina.
The NASCAR Cup Series wraps its regular season schedule Saturday at Daytona International Speedway with the Coke Zero Sugar 400. The race will be broadcast at 4 p.m. on NBC.
ROSSI WRECKS IN ILLINOIS
Alexander Rossi’s 2021 IndyCar struggles followed him to the World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois.
Rossi, who drives the No. 27 NAPA Auto Parts Honda for Andretti Autosport, was poised for a podium finish at the Bommarito Automotive Group 500, running in third through 200 laps of the 260-lap race, but lost control in Turn 2 of lap 201 and ran into the wall. The crash took Rossi out of the race and he settled for a 17th place finish.
“I just had a big wiggle at the apex and in correcting it, it moved us up half a lane and it was in the marbles,” Rossi said during an NBCSN interview. “I thought it was going to come back, honestly. It was kind of weird. It was my fault, there’s nothing more to say. It was a pretty minimum mistake, but with a huge consequence.
“I think we easily could have been third. It’s a bummer, man. Just can’t catch a break. This one is on me. Just have to reset and move on.”
Josef Newgarden won the race, his second of the season and 20th in his IndyCar career. Pato O’Ward placed second and Will Power took third to complete the podium.
In 13 races this season, Rossi has eight top-10 finishes with his best showing coming Aug. 14 at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, where he finished in fourth. Rossi is currently in 12th on the overall points standings with just three races left on the schedule.
Rossi will now gear up for IndyCar’s West Coast swing, which gets rolling Sept. 12 with the Grand Prix of Portland. The Series then heads to California for the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey, Sept. 19, and the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, Sept. 26.
SWEET NOTCHES TOP-10 FINISHES IN DAKOTAS
World of Outlaws sprint car driver Brad Sweet tallied a pair of solid finishes over the weekend, placing sixth at the Duel in the Dakotas Saturday at Red River Valley Speedway in North Dakota, and taking eighth at the Pioneer Bin Buster Bash Sunday at Huset’s Speedway in South Dakota.
Sweet, a Grass Valley native, now has a series-best 47 top-10 finishes in 56 starts this season. The two-time and defending World of Outlaws Sprint Car champion also has a series best 14 wins.
Sweet, who drives the No. 49 NAPA Auto Parts sprint car for Kasey Kahne Racing, remains atop the overall season points standings with 7,722. David Gravel, who won the Pioneer Bin Buster Bash, is in second place with 7,602 points.
There are 23 races left on the schedule for Sweet and the rest of the World of Outlaws drivers. The series has a three-race slate this week, starting with a race at River Cities Speedway in North Dakota on Wednesday, followed by the FVP Platinum Battery Showdown, Friday in Nebraska, and closing out the weekend Sunday with the Rushmore Outlaw Showdown at Black Hills Speedway in South Dakota.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, email email@example.com
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