Matt DiBendetto saw his shot at winning the Daytona 500 come to an end when he was involved in one of the day’s multi-car accidents.
DiBenedetto made his debut with Leavine Family Racing and he had his Toyota at the front of the field for much of Sunday’s race. He led a career-high 49 laps and was in contention to score an upset win.
But contact from the No. 21 of Paul Menard proved to be DiBenedetto’s undoing. The incident sent the duo spinning in front of the field as they charged through Turn 3 and before it was over a total of 21 cars were caught up in the melee.
“This was the most amazing and most heartbreaking day all in the same day,” DiBenedetto said. “Unbelievable how fast my car was. It’s heartbreaking, but it was really neat to lead that many laps, have that many good things go.
“I am so appreciative of all my fans. I have had so much support it is overwhelming.”
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The wreck ended a career day for DiBenedetto as he begins the next phase of his career with LFR. He took the accident in stride and remains optimistic about what lies ahead in 2019 with his new team, manufacturer in Toyota and crew chief in veteran Mike Wheeler.
“There’s still a lot of positives to take from today,” DiBenedetto said. “I’m heartbroken, but there are a lot of positives. We came, put these cars together quick, had a lot of changes with this team and we came out and led the most laps and were flying. A lot of momentum going into the season.”