DiBenedetto earns respect after second-place finish

Sports

August 20, 2019 - 10:42 AM

Matt DiBenedetto led a career-high 93 laps at Bristol. AP/WADE PAYNE

BRISTOL, Tenn. (AP) — When his sponsorship dried up early last season, Matt DiBenedetto took the unique step of making a social media video asking for funding ideas.

Denny Hamlin was among those who saw the clip and then donated $5,000 to his fellow competitor. The gesture brought more attention to DiBenedetto’s plight and ultimately a partial sponsorship that helped him get through the 2018 season.

So there was a twinge of sadness for Hamlin after he chased down DiBenedetto in the closing laps of Saturday night’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway and denied the underdog an upset victory. DiBenedetto had learned four days before the race that Leavine Family Racing wasn’t bringing him back for a second season, and a Bristol victory would have been a tremendous résumé boost during free agency.

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