Add Matt DiBenedetto to the list of available NASCAR drivers in 2019.
DiBenedetto said Friday evening that he would be leaving Go Fas Racing and the No. 32 team at the end of the season. DiBenedetto, 26, has driven for the team since the beginning of 2017. He said in his statement that “winning races has always been the goal and now I’m taking a leap of faith and betting on myself to prove it. Watching other drivers get opportunities has definitely been a driving force in my decision, knowing that I can get it done if given the chance.”
I will have a media availability in the media center tomorrow at 9:45am pic.twitter.com/cZ4DsKQ7pI
— Matt DiBenedetto (@mattdracing) September 7, 2018
DiBenedetto is currently 30th in the points standings and last among drivers who have competed in all 25 Cup Series races so far in 2018. That’s obviously not all on him. His Go Fas Racing team is the weakest Ford team in the garage.
Where could he land?
DiBenedetto said on SiriusXM Friday evening that he didn’t have any destination lined up for 2019.
— SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Ch. 90) (@SiriusXMNASCAR) September 8, 2018
Given DiBenedetto’s statement, he doesn’t want to join another backmarker team. But the competitive Cup Series options are limited. Spots at Stewart-Haas Racing (the No. 41), Chip Ganassi Racing (the No. 1) could be open at the end of the season. But those rides will likely be determined by the 2019 fates of Martin Truex Jr. and Kurt Busch. Truex, the 2017 champion, is looking for a ride after Furniture Row Racing said it was shutting down at the end of the season. Busch, the 2004 champion who currently drives the No. 41, is a free agent at the end of the season.
Those circumstances could make an Xfinity Series ride attractive. Is it better to drive good equipment in NASCAR’s second-tier — even on a part-time basis — than to drive full-time ride with a lower team? Ryan Preece has become a budding star with his part-time Xfinity Series success with Joe Gibbs Racing in 2018 and Alex Bowman became Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s successor at Hendrick Motorsports by being willing to sit out and be the team’s simulation and test driver.
Maybe DiBenedetto would be willing to take a path similar to theirs. We’ll find out in the coming months.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.