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NASCAR: Whispers surrounding Leavine Family Racing’s planned switch to Toyota & Matt DiBenedetto replacing Kasey Kahne in the No.95 from 2019

Less than 24 hours ago Kasey Kahne forced to retire early than planned after the season next month.

Yes, it’s a bummer because fans would love to see him give the perfect send-off after Homestead-Miami.

But health has to be No.1 after he suffered heat exhaustion at Darlington earlier last month.

And it’s good to hear that Kahne is healthy off-track.

All the best to him on his full recovery before touring nationwide at the dirt tracks next year.

What’s the plan now over the next few weeks?

Regan Smith will race for Leavine Family Racing (LFR) over the rest of this season:

  • Talladega
  • Kansas
  • Martinsville
  • Texas
  • Phoenix
  • Homestead

Are there any surprises regarding long-term plans?

According to Adam Stern, LFR will hold a formal announcement today at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

That would be regarding a few things that fans should predict right:

    • A switch of powertrains from Chevrolet to Toyota
    • Technical Alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing
    • Matt DiBenedetto to replace Kasey Kahne full-time

Why not Christopher Bell and/or Daniel Suarez?

Christopher Bell will come back to drive the No.20 Toyota in the XFINITY Series next year for Joe Gibbs Racing.

In the long-haul possibly from 2020, Bell’s ready to move into Cup by then and drive the No.11 car replacing Denny Hamlin.

On the other hand, Daniel Suarez didn’t enjoy much of the success over the past two years.

Yes, JGR forced to put Suarez in the No.19 car as they couldn’t find anyone experienced to replace Carl Edwards.

It’s a shame to see him go.

But after failing to make the Playoffs in 2017-18, it’s best for JGR to add Martin Truex Jr. in Suarez’s seat instead next year.

Though, he’s right regarding his personality and deserves to find another Cup drive.

Suarez may drive the second LFR car in the No.59.

Don’t know it’ll be part of today’s planned announcement as it’s hopeful it’ll happen.

If not, he should drive the No.41 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing bundling up with the Arris sponsorship deal.

SRR would like a new driver that can bring a hefty amount of cash to cover 36 races every year.

They’ve done that before when Aric Almirola & Smithfield took over the No.10 car to replace Danica Patrick this year.

Suarez & Arris would do the same to fill-in Kurt Busch’s old spot.

Yes, Cole Custer should fill-in that car instead of Suarez.

But, Gene Haas said there’s no rush that Custer will be in a Cup car any time soon on a full-time basis.

GO FAS, or Rick Ware Racing would be a great start to boost Custer’s Cup experience.

Conclusion Part 1

It’s great to see Matt DiBenedetto find a ride somewhere at the top level.

He demonstrated through plenty of success from limited-budget & one-car teams in recent years:

  • 6th, Bristol in April 2016
  • 9th, 2017 Daytona 500
  • 8th, Indianapolis in July 2016
  • 7th, Daytona in July 2018

It’s a bummer to see DiBenedetto part ways with GO FAS Racing after Homestead.

But he wants a fresh challenge in a way that will help him win races.

You never know how will LFR perform in a Toyota with Joe Gibbs Racing equipment firsthand from the start of next year.

Though, since LFR’s filling-in as JGR’s main satellite team after Furniture Row Racing shuts down, it could pay off.

DiBenedetto would benefit in one of these race cars.

Just as if you see Truex winning some races every year in a Toyota with Furniture Row.

He knows JGR well having driven an XFINITY Series car a couple of times before in 2009-10.

Don’t forget he had driven a Toyota before when he was at BK Racing back in 2015-16.

That’s why when you pick a new team, he needs something that will help tick all the boxes & his long-term framework.

And LFR will have a gem in nailing down DiBenedetto’s signature with the right knowledge & setup.

Conclusion Part 2

Some think Michael Waltrip Racing was Toyota’s second-best organization at Cup a few years back.

Then something shut down at seasons’ end.

The same thing went with Furniture Row Racing a while ago.

Now it’s up to Leavine Family Racing to make a spot of their own and make their mark against the best of the pack.

With the switch to Toyota, the transition will take time.

But if the performances do match as the same as FRR’s in recent years, then they’re ready to win races.

No matter which driver of their choice.

DiBenedetto has the merit and driving ability to match his & the organizations’ DNA.

It will happen as long as the race car can be competitive enough to go into victory lane.

Apart from that, all the best.

His 2018 Season So Far.

  • 30 Starts
  • 7829 of 8374 Laps Completed, 93.5%
  • Six Laps Led
  • Highest Starting Spot: 18th, March 2018 in Fontana & July 2018 at Pocono
  • Best Finish: 7th, July 2018 in Daytona
  • One Top 10, 3.3%
  • Average Start: 29.2 & Finish: 26.6
  • He currently sits 30th in the Drivers’ Standings with 318 Points.
  • DNF: Six

Results

  • 27th, Daytona 500 (Brakes)
  • 31st, Atlanta
  • 22nd, Las Vegas
  • 25th, Phoenix
  • 31st, Fontana
  • 32nd, Martinsville
  • 16th, Texas
  • 21st, Bristol
  • 16th, Richmond
  • 19th, Talladega
  • 29th, Dover
  • 22nd, Kansas
  • 37th, Charlotte (Oil Leak) & Pocono (Brakes)
  • 36th, Michigan
  • 17th, Sonoma
  • 29th, Chicago
  • 7th, Daytona 2
  • 37th, Kentucky (Vibration)
  • 28th, New Hampshire
  • 27th, Pocono
  • 33rd, Watkins Glen
  • 24th, Michigan 2
  • 22nd, Bristol 2
  • 38th, Darlington (Rear End)
  • 36th, Indianapolis (Rear End)
  • 24th, Las Vegas 2
  • 34th, Richmond 2
  • 13th, Charlotte Roval
  • 27th, Dover 2

Follow Matt DiBenedetto on Social Media!!

Make sure you stay up to date with Matt when you visit his website here as well as via:

Plus, you can shop his latest Fan Gear and Collectibles via the official NASCAR Shop link here.

References

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