Points Finish 30th, 0 Wins, 0 Top Fives, 1 Top Ten, 6 Top Twenties, 27.0 Average Finish, 27.6 Average Running Position, 8 Laps Led, 46.04 Driver Rating
Matt DiBenedetto bet on himself big when he announced he would leave the #32 and in 2019 he\’ll reap the rewards.
This upcoming season he\’ll drive the #95. It\’s important to note his #95 Levine Family Racing entry will be a lot different than its 2018 version.
They\’ll now be using Toyota\’s, they\’ll have a technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing and Mike Wheeler will be his crew chief. Mike Wheeler is Denny Hamlin\’s former crew chief and I view him coming onboard as a good omen in terms of the level of commitment for the technical alliance.
The biggest question about Matt DiBenedetto for me in terms of his fantasy value is what level will the technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing be? I\’m going to speculate they\’ll likely be getting their \”B-\” equipment which will still be plenty good (This fantasy preview is written with that mindset).
In 2019 when the final points are tallied, I think he\’ll likely finish somewhere around 20th in the standings.
Matt DiBenedetto is a driver who races with 100% effort and outperforms his equipment most weekends. Now that he’ll be in a more competitive ride, I think he’ll be a high impact fantasy NASCAR option in 2019. This upcoming season I think plate tracks, intermediate tracks and Bristol will be strengths.
Matt DiBenedetto will essentially be a driver without a track record in 2019. He’s in a more competitive situation and the level of performance between his old ride and new ride will be a night and day difference. That makes it hard to speak about a known weakness and there will be a ton of question marks about him in 2019. Those questions will likely be answered by race 9 (Richmond).
Intermediate Track Fantasy Value – B-
At intermediate mediate tracks I’m giving Matt DiBenedetto a “B-” fantasy value heading into 2019. That will equate out to him likely be a high-teens to about 20th place driver on most weekends. I’ll note there’s potential, he might be slightly better than that (degree of the technical alliance), but we’ll likely be able to iron out his fantasy value after the first couple of races on this track type.
In 2018 at intermediate tracks he came home with quite a few results in the low-twenties on this track type. Given the state of his equipment those were great results even though they don’t seem that appealing. If he can have performances like that in his new ride those might translate into low double-digits to mid-teens results.
Flat Track Fantasy Value – B-
Remember how I said Matt DiBenedetto will be a driver without a track record earlier? I still mean it.
In the past at flat tracks he really hasn’t shown anything to inspire confidence. Since he’s now in a more competitive situation he should definitely run better. The question is how much better.
I’m going to play it safe and just view him as a high-teens to low-twenties driver who has potential to finish marginally better.
Short Track Fantasy Value – C+
Matt DiBenedetto might have some real upside in 2019 with his new ride at short tracks. Joe Gibbs Racing makes great cars for this track type. I will note the jury is definitely out in terms of Matt DiBenedetto\’s short track prowess until we see him in action in the #95.
Bristol is arguably Matt DiBenedetto’s best track. He snuck in a 6th in spring 2016 and in the five races since his average finish is 21.0. That’s very respectable when you factor in the #32 teams level of performance.
At Richmond, Matt DiBenedetto snuck in a 16th last spring. I find that result encouraging. In his 7 other races there he’s finished 28th or worse.
Martinsville hasn’t been a friendly venue and nothing good has ever happened to him there. Over his 8 races his average finish is 33rd and his best result is 29th. I would recommend staying away from him there.
Plate Track Fantasy Value – B
If you’re looking for a sleeper option at restrictor plate tracks don’t overlook Matt DiBenedetto. He’s capable of sneaking in good results on this track type. Now that he’ll have “Toyota Teammates” out there I have higher expectations for him. In 2019 he has a good chance to sneak in a top ten or two.
At Daytona in 3 of the last 4 races he’s finished in the top 13. Last season he finished 7th in July and in the Daytona 500 he had a great chance to finish in the top ten but he was caught up in a late wreck. Two laps before he crashed he was running in 6th. In 2017 at Daytona he had results of 9th and 13th.
At Talladega, he’s finished in the high-teens in the last two spring races and in the last two fall races he’s finished in the low-thirties.
Road Course Fantasy Value – B-
Road courses were a strength for Matt DiBenedetto in 2018. In 2 of the 3 races he finished in the teen’s. In the one race he didn’t, he had problems (33rd, Watkins Glen).
In 2018 when the Charlotte Road Course made its debut, he had his all-time best result on this track type and finished 13th.
Last year at Sonoma he finished 17th, in 2017 he finished 23rd.
At Watkins Glen, he doesn’t have a good finish on his resume and his best result was a 26th back in 2015.
In 2019 I think he’ll likely be about a high-teens to low-twenties driver at these venues. If things go really well he might be able to sneak in one result around the mid-teens.