Paul Menard Retiring, Matt DiBenedetto driving famed Wood Brothers 21

Matt DiBenedetto
ELKHART LAKE, WISCONSIN - AUGUST 23: Matt DiBenedetto, driver of the #18 iK9 Toyota, walks to his car during practice for the NASCAR Xfinity Series CTECH Manufacturing 180 at Road America on August 23, 2019 in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

It’s been almost two months since NASCAR’s rising star Matt DiBenedetto nearly pulled off an upset win at Bristol Motor Speedway.

He finished second to Denny Hamlin, but got the loudest cheer after the race of any of the drivers present at the track.

He’ll be a fan favorite soon, which just makes his move to the Wood Brothers No. 21 car all the more perfect.

Paul Menard Retiring, Matt DiBenedetto driving famed Wood Brothers 21

You read that right.

At the end of the 2019 season, Paul Menard will retire from full-time NASCAR competition.

“I’ve enjoyed every moment of my career racing in the NASCAR Cup Series, and I’m so thankful for all the great memories and friendships I’ve made through this sport,” Menard said in a release posted by NASCAR. “But, I’m looking forward to spending more time at home with my wife, Jennifer, and our two young children while moving forward with the next chapter of my life. I’m excited for what the future holds and I’m looking forward to sharing the plans for 2020 and beyond in the coming weeks.”

This opened the door for DiBenedetto, who found out he was being pushed out of the No. 95 car for Xfinity Series power Christopher Bell, during the week leading up to the Bristol Night Race.

It prompted DiBenedetto to take advantage of the personal entrance songs the track allows for driver introductions.

Matt DiBenedetto
BRISTOL, TENNESSEE – AUGUST 17: Matt DiBenedetto, driver of the #95 Toyota Express Maintenance Toyota, is introduced prior to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 17, 2019 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

He came out wearing boxing attire and imitating the movie, Rocky. He wanted to show that he had nothing to lose and that he was going to fight his way to the front during that August Saturday night.

DiBenedetto did just that, and Wood Brothers Racing noticed.

The No. 21 car that DiBenedetto will get into next season has been driven by some of the all-time greats in A.J. Foyt, Kyle Petty, Neil Bonnett and more recently Ryan Blaney & Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne.

DiBenedetto sent out a tweet after the news went public. It read:

I don’t even have the words to describe how thankful I am!! Paul is such a great guy and I’m lucky to call him a friend and I wish him the best! So excited to take over and drive for one of the most legendary teams in NASCAR next year! I have so many people to thank!!!!

DiBenedetto will race out the end of the season in the cup series in the 95 still, as the series starts its 2019 postseason on Sunday night.

 

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