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We’re nearly towards closing September in exactly one week.
It’s when Team Penske will decide whether or not Matt DiBenedetto retains his ride at Wood Brothers Racing for 2021.
The reason why Penske has the final say because they partner closely with Wood Brothers such as equipment and inventory alongside WBR’s well-known list of sponsors via Ford’s subsidiaries.
Hence, Wood Brothers is part of Team Penske’s 4th Cup Team as a satellite operation.
If DiBenedetto unfortunately gets the chop by WBR/Penske & make way for Austin Cindric despite coming here for only on a one year contract, where he will end up next?
The vacant No.48 seat ride for 2021 is still up for grabs.
If he ends up at Hendrick, then DiBenedetto will no doubt bring vast experience in line with his ambitions.
He has already proven to everyone that DiBenedetto has the talent, confidence and ability from a limited-budget to a midfield equipment before.
At the same time, he can provide great competition to former BK Racing alumni, Alex Bowman, who is capable of winning and so does William Byron and Chase Elliott.
Coincidentally, he would follow the trend of Elliott and Dale Jr. of having another popular driver presence there too.
Overall, DiBenedetto can be a great leader like fellow Californian native Jimmie Johnson & operator in a youthful Hendrick organization, who can guide the No.48 Chevy back to where it belongs on the front row.
And Ally Financial will still cover the whole season in the No.48 Chevy.
All it matters if accepted is DiBenedetto backing up decent results every weekend which is what he and Hendrick wants to do.
Gaunt Brothers Racing
If DiBenedetto wants to return to Toyota Power, then how about going to the No.96 car for Gaunt Brothers.
It may not be under the Wood surname for another yet but at least he’ll get to race with pride under Marty Gaunt, who has great contacts/backing with Toyota.
So there should be little worry about him finding sponsorship $$$ himself.
But the only thing that matters if Gaunt can get a charter as well as seek an extra investor.
If so, Gaunt will at least target the former Leavine standard that boomed from its limited-budget status to the midfield group in 2019-20.
That way it will give a lifeline for another free agent who is still ambitious like DiBenedetto to make history with Gaunt Bros.
Not only he will work at an organization like Gaunt that has greater ties with Toyota as their 2nd lone satellite Cup team alongside the Hamlin-Jordan Racing.
But at least he’ll still be able to meet their ambitions with the equipment that is equal to the one he raced with Leavine and WBR over the last two years.
Should he not secure a seat at Hendrick or Gaunt, then how about a move to Spire.
Yes, they may be a limited-budget team right now using a rotation of several different drivers thanks to their contacts from the Rick Ware Racing.
But this team is expanding to two cars in 2021 with both charters acquired from former the Toyota affiliate team’s ashes of Furniture Row and now Leavine.
Plus they will move & inherit the Leavine race shop at the same time to accomodate that expansion.
The Next Gen chassis that will roll out in 2022 is the reason why Spire chose to expand within their sports marketing/agency arm & form a Cup team.
Spire will no doubt upgrade their budget with the Chevy power from Hendrick & better Ganassi ties to make the equipment decent enough to challenge mid-pack.
It’s most likely Justin Haley will occupy the No.77 seat having driven part-time in 2019 where he unexpectedly won the Coke Zero 400 in Daytona.
And if DiBenedetto comes in at Spire, then he will no doubt be a great mentor to that young driver & offer experience + ambition in the long run as long as the car is competitive to fetch a Top 10-15 finish.
JTG Daugherty Racing
Should all of the above landing spots I’ve suggested are taken, then how about a move to the No.37 JTG Chevy.
It’s expected that Ryan Preece will leave after this season with his performances unfortunately below inconsistent compared to Chris Buscher and later Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
If DiBenedetto goes there, it will be a fresh new competition against Stenhouse to see who is the real leader at JTG.
And it will be a good move because not only both are vastly experienced at this level.
But they share the same ambition and targets to help JTG regularly battle Top 15 & begin to pull further apart from Front Row Motorsports.
He doesn’t need sponsors himself to bring JTG to the table as that team has got themselves covered.
All he has to do to get his No.37 team out of the limited-budget circle from P30 in the drivers’ standings.
Once he can do that, then be on the same page as Stenhouse & aim for the Top 20 mark for a great chance to snatch an outside Playoffs spot.
Matt DiBenedetto deserves better to stay at Wood Brothers Racing for another year.
He guided them to the Round of 16 Playoffs for the first time since Ryan Blaney in 2017.
Yes, his Round of 16 runs didn’t go his way that left him eliminated.
But again, he needs more time to meet what Wood Brothers want in the long run and that would be starting to win races & regular Top-Half runs again.
If he can stay there, great as he should complete that next target before taking over Brad Keselowski’s seat at Team Penske in 2022 or 2023.
If he can’t stay there & make way for Austin Cindric, then I hope he finds a similar or better ride.
His hard work should continue to get plenty of notice as the only top team that can promise him an opportunity to try and win races is at Hendrick Motorsports.
Otherwise, his realistic bet would be at Spire or JTG.
They’re both ambitious organizations who needed an esteemed and talent focused driver that can push them to the next level by challenging the midfield category.
Should either of them put DiBenedetto in, then watch battle in a decent equipment and you can be the judge as to why would Wood Brothers let him go in the first place.
And If you want my pick for DiBenedetto to drive either of those three belong to Spire.
It’s because they both have former Toyota affiliate charters plus the upgraded investment as part of their two-car venture from 2021.
That way, it will most likely benefit DiBenedetto’s ambitions with Spire in the hope of regularly challenge the Top 15 plus some wins on the board.