MENCS Opinions

Handy: The Smaller Teams Breakthrough at IMS

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It may have been Kasey Kahne who captured his first win in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in almost three years on Sunday in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but it was some of the ‘underdog’ teams who shined bright as well.

Not to take away from Kahne’s win, because I can’t think of anyone who isn’t happy for him and his team, myself included, but the finishes the smaller teams had are feel good stories and can certainly help underfunded teams in the long run.

Matt DiBenedetto and Go FAS Racing: DiBenedetto will be the first one to tell you they are underfunded, but they work their tails off. DiBenedetto who drives the No. 32 for Go FAS Racing which only has 15 employees, no simulation and are a team who does things the old school way. DiBenedetto managed to stay out of trouble during a caution filled Brickyard 400 on Sunday to finish 8th. 8th place for a single car team is huge, it’s almost as good as a win.

Remember, DiBenedetto has been here before, he finished 9th in the season opening Daytona 500. Sunday’s finish marked his third top-10 finish in his MENCS career thus far. DiBenedetto finished 6th in the Spring of 2016 at Bristol while driving for another small team, BK Racing.

“It’s unreal, we have 15 people. Teams we just beat have 500 employees. We have 15 hardworking guys doing it the old school way. We have a little old shop with a family owned team, DiBenedetto said after the race.”

Cole Whitt and TriStar Motorsports: Cole Whitt is no stranger to the MENCS and showed Sunday given the right strategy and opportunities he can finish toward the front. TriStar currently runs as a single-car team in the MENCS with Whitt as the full-time driver of the No. 72. Whitt managed to stay out of trouble during one of the wildest Brickyard 400 races to date to finish in the 12th position. This was the boost both driver and team needed after having 6 DNF’s in the last 8 races.

Noted: The JTG Daughtry teammates of Chris Buescher and AJ Allmendinger went on to finish 9th and 10th, while Michael McDowell driver of the No. 95 for Leavine Family Racing finished in the 18th position. It’s important to note McDowell was actually running in the top 5 with 2 laps to go but still managed a decent finish after all the late cautions and wrecks.

While many of the smaller teams tend to look forward to the plate tracks of Daytona and Talladega to have a chance to finish towards the front, or even win, Indy proved anything can happen at any track. Did the smaller teams get lucky with the cautions? Sure, you could say that, but they played strategy well just like any team big or small would try to do. The smaller teams have to work harder with less, therefore, these finishes are a positive step in the right direction for each of the teams to improve from week to week.

Timmy Hill and MBM Motorsports: Sunday marked Timmy Hill’s 200th NASCAR start, and he capped it off with a 14th place finish at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Hill took advantage Sunday when he earned the free pass on three separate occasions to get him back on the lead lap. Sunday’s race marked the first time since 2013 that he finished on the lead lap.

Previously Hill’s best finish in the MENCS was 22nd, he greatly improved on that statistic. Hill knows how important of a finish this was for the small team as he took to Twitter after the race: “Thank you all 4 the overwhelming support! This sport is very challenging as a small team but yesterday’s finish makes the hard days’ worth it!”

 

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About Sarah Handy

Sarah Handy is a NASCAR writer. You can find her on Twitter at @SarahHandy85. A college student studying Communications/Public Relations Field and an Electronics Associate at Walmart. Sarah enjoys tweeting about racing, running, reading, puzzles, video games, and photography. Born and raised in Rhode Island, Sarah avidly follows all major New England Teams (Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins & Celtics) as well as a huge fan of what she considers her “home track” New Hampshire Motor Speedway which she attend for the races each year.

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