Fantasy NASCAR Preview #19: Matt DiBenedetto



2020 DRIVER FANTASY RANKING: 18th          

2019 FANTASY NASCAR RANK: 21st            


2019 RECAP: Matt DiBenedetto once again bet on himself and he won. DiBenedetto drove the No. 95 car for Leavine Family Racing and while the team had an alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing; it was not as tight of an alliance as the team will have this season with Christopher Bell behind the wheel. DiBenedetto was one of the biggest surprises in Fantasy NASCAR last year. He led 49 laps in the Daytona 500 and he finished 4th at Sonoma, 5th at Loudon, 6th at Watkins Glen, 8th at Darlington and 7th at Dover. No one expected him to finish that many races in the top 10.


2020 Preview: Matt DiBenedetto will replace Paul Menard in the No. 21 car for the Wood Brothers in 2020. What is interesting about this is that Paul Menard handpicked DiBenedetto to replace him in his seat. That shows the respect that DiBenedetto has in the garage. DiBenedetto signed a one-year contract so once again he is going to have to rely on his skills behind the wheel to keep him in the Cup Series. DiBenedetto will have Greg Irwin as his crew chief and Menards will remain as the primary sponsor on the car. The team will also have a close alliance with Team Penske. This should be a breakout season for DiBenedetto. He is a good pick to win one of the races at Bristol.



Matt DiBenedetto was much better on the short tracks than he was on the Intermediate tracks last year. He did show some improvement in the second-half of the season though. DiBenedetto had a 29.8 average finishing position in the first 5 races on the 1.5-mle tracks and a 17.2 average finishing position in the last 5 races on the 1.5-mile tracks. I would take a “wait and see” approach with DiBenedetto in 2020 before I use him on the Intermediate tracks. If he performs well at Las Vegas, Atlanta and Homestead; I will feel comfortable using him at Texas, Kansas and Charlotte. (Matt DiBenedetto ranked 24th in fantasy points scored on the Intermediate Tracks in 2019)



No one expected Matt DiBenedetto to lead the most laps in the Daytona 500 last year. He never had much success on the Superspeedways but he never got a chance to drive a good car. That is not the case this season. Team Penske has dominated the races on these tracks and Paul Menard had a lot of success too. I expect DiBenedetto to lineup with Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney in the Superspeedway races and follow them around the track. That is not a bad place to be. He has a lot of value in the Driver Group Game at the Superspeedways but I would only use him in DFS (Daily Fantasy Sports) if he qualifies poorly. (Matt DiBendetto ranked 21st in fantasy points scored on the Superspeedways in 2019)


FLAT TRACK VALUE (Richmond / Phoenix / Martinsville / Loudon)

Matt DiBenedetto did not run well in the spring races at the Flat tracks but he really found his rhythm in the summer and fall. DiBenedetto qualified 7th and finished 5th at Loudon. The race at the Magic Mile was one of his best races of the season. He also finished 14th at Richmond, 16th at Martinsville and 13th at Phoenix. That is not bad considering the car he was driving. I look for DiBenedetto to improve on these finishes in 2020. I plan to use DiBenedetto on the short tracks and fade him on the larger ovals. (Matt DiBendetto ranked 16th in fantasy points scored on the Flat Tracks in 2019)


STEEP TRACK VALUE (Bristol / Dover / Darlington)

I predicted in my 2019 Driver Preview of Matt DiBenedetto that he would win at Bristol last year. I was almost right. DiBenedetto qualified 7th, led 93 laps and finished 2nd. Bristol is his best track and he needs to be in all lineups in Thunder Valley this season. He also had success at Dover and Darlington. DiBenedetto finished 7th at Dover and 8th at Darlington. DiBenedetto should be considered for all fantasy lineups when the Cup Series travels to the Steep tracks. (Matt DiBenedetto ranked 7th in fantasy points scored on the Steep Tracks in 2019)


ROAD COURSE TRACK VALUE (Sonoma / Watkins Glen / Roval)

The biggest surprise in the 2019 season was Matt DiBenedetto’s success on the Road Courses. He was never considered a great Road Course driver but he surely figured it out last year. DiBenedetto finished 4th at Sonoma, 6th at Watkins Glen and 11th at the Charlotte Roval. He should be even better this season. DiBenedetto should be in all Driver Group Game lineups at the Road Courses and he will have value in DFS if he qualifies outside the top 10. (Matt DiBenedetto ranked 5th in fantasy points scored on the Road Courses in 2019)


Best Tracks to for Matt DiBenedetto: 1) Bristol, 2) Sonoma, 3) Charlotte Roval, 4) Loudon, 5) Dover



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