Wood Brothers Racing announced Thursday morning that Harrison Burton will drive their No. 21 Ford in 2022, replacing Matt DiBenedetto.
DiBenedetto has been in limbo before. In 2018, he left GoFAS Racing and landed a ride with Leavine Family Racing shortly thereafter.
In August 2019, he announced that Leavine Family Racing was parting ways with him. The next month, he landed a ride with Wood Brothers Racing for 2020 after Paul Menard announced his retirement.
In late-2020, his future with the WBR was up in the air until the team picked up his option for a second year.
Now, in 2021, DiBenedetto is in limbo again with a few possibilities for his future:
Second Trackhouse car
Trackhouse Racing will retain Daniel Suarez for 2022 but their second driver has yet to be announced. While Kurt Busch and Ross Chastain are obvious favorites for the ride, former Clint Bowyer spotter Brett Griffin and his Door Bumper Clear podcast co-hosts indicated there is someone with a better chance at landing the ride that will be a shock.
Currently, DiBenedetto is 18th in NASCAR Cup Series points, with two Top 5 finishes, five Top 10 finishes, an 18.2 average finish and 40 laps led, which are numbers that are identical to Chastain’s numbers.
With Kurt Busch heavily rumored to be joining 23XI Racing as their second driver and the numbers considered, DiBenedetto may be the “shock” candidate for the second Trackhouse Racing ride in 2022.
No. 38 Front Row Motorsports car
While there is no indication that Anthony Alfredo will not be re-signed to the No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford entry, Alfredo has struggled this season.
Alfredo’s average finish is 26.9 and his best finish is 12th, which is one of only eight Top 25 finishes in 21 races so far this season.
At this point last season, his predecessor John Hunter Nemechek had four Top 10 finishes and only four finishes outside of the Top 25. Nemechek also earned a 22.4 average finish.
Of course, some relief must be given to Alfredo as this is his first full-time season in any of the top three NASCAR national series. However, DiBenedetto would bring experience to the No. 38 car to elevate its performance and match Michael McDowell who is giving FRM its best season yet.
Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 NASCAR Xfinity Series Toyota or Team Penske No. 22 NASCAR Xfinity Series Ford
While these entries have opened up with Thursday’s announcements, the possibility that DiBenedetto will move down to NXS for either ride is unlikely. DiBenedetto previously stated that he belongs in a NASCAR Cup Series ride and is not interested in moving down.
However, if need be, DiBenedetto has a chance to be in a competitive ride where he could win races and contend for the championship, as John Hunter Nemechek has done with moving to the No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports NASCAR Camping World Truck Series entry. This would allow DiBenedetto to stay in the sport and have a strong chance at moving back up in time.
DiBenedetto is also connected with Team Penske through his current No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing ride which would make the transition seamless.
DiBenedetto’s future will depend on his performance throughout the rest of the season. Despite several close brushes with victory, a Playoff berth in 2020 and strong fan support, he lacks a win that could secure his future. If DiBenedetto won, his prospects for any available ride will be improved.
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