Wood Brothers Racing’s Matt DiBenedetto is nearing the end of his tenure with the NASCAR Cup Series team. He only has 13 races remaining after the trip to Watkins Glen International, but he does not know where he will go next. However, DiBenedetto clarified that he will “entertain anything” ahead of the 2022 season.
Davey Segal of “Frontstretch” spoke to the driver of the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford Mustang prior to the 90-lap race at Watkins Glen. DiBenedetto explained during this availability that he is open to moving back to the Xfinity Series. His goal is to remain in the Cup Series, but he clarified that the second-tier series remains an option.
For now, however, DiBenedetto will focus on the immediate future. He will strive to lock up his first career Cup Series win before the end of the 2021 season. Doing so will move Wood Brothers Racing to 100 career wins, and DiBenedetto has the goal of being the man to deliver the victory.
His next opportunity will be the first-ever Indianapolis GP Cup Series race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. DiBenedetto and his peers will take on the road course at The Brickyard for the first time on Aug. 15 at 1 p.m. ET.
Several Xfinity Series Teams Could Become Options
If DiBenedetto does move back to the Xfinity Series, he could have multiple options as his next destination. There are several drivers that have yet to lock up deals for the 2022 season, including stars at JR Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing.
Brandon Jones, the driver of the No. 19 JGR Toyota Supra, has the goal of moving up to the Cup Series after six full-time seasons in Xfinity. Similarly, JR Motorsports driver Noah Gragson will become a free agent at the end of the 2021 season. He agreed to a one-year contract extension in August 2020, keeping him in the No. 9 JRM Chevrolet Camaro, but he does not know what his future holds. If either of these drivers moves to the Cup Series or a different team, they would open up a spot that DiBenedetto could potentially fill.
One potential other option is Martins Motorsports. Driver-owner Tommy Joe Martins revealed in late July that he will no longer serve as the full-time driver of the No. 44 Chevrolet Camaro. Instead, he will move to a multi-driver setup for 2022 and beyond. Martins said at the time that he has a “handshake deal” with an ARCA driver for three races and that he is searching for more to join the fold.
There is no guarantee that DiBenedetto will move to one of these three teams or any others with an open spot, but they could serve as options as he examines his future in the sport. For now, he will focus on turning in strong performances in what remains of the 2021 season.
DiBenedetto Will Lose His Spot to an Xfinity Series Driver
Prior to the race at Watkins Glen International, DiBenedetto received confirmation that he will not remain with Wood Brothers Racing for the 2022 season. The team announced that Harrison Burton will move from the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Supra and will take over the No. 21 Ford Mustang.
Burton switching manufacturers and teams will open up a spot in the No. 20, which JGR will reportedly fill with ARCA driver Ty Gibbs. Though the organization has yet to confirm the move ahead of the 2022 season.
If Gibbs does indeed take over the No. 20, there will be questions about the No. 54 JGR Toyota Supra. This stock car serves as a ride for part-time drivers. Cup Series stars such as Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., and Christopher Bell have all used the ride to prepare for races while Gibbs used it to gain experience. Will JGR continue to follow the same trend in 2022 with Busch saying that he will retire from the Xfinity Series, or will the team move to one full-time driver?
DiBenedetto previously suited up for JGR in the Xfinity Series. He made six starts for the team in 2010, controlling the No. 20 Toyota. DiBenedetto did not reach Victory Lane during this part-time season, but he posted a best finish of ninth at Iowa Speedway in a race that Kyle Busch won.