NASCAR’s “Silly Season” — a.k.a. free agency — is in full swing, and the latest news involves several Ford drivers, including Brad Keselowski.
In the premier Cup Series, Team Penske announced Thursday that Keselowski will be out of the No. 2 Ford next season — he’s expected to join Roush Fenway Racing — and he’ll be replaced by Austin Cindric, the reigning second-tier Xfinity Series champion. Originally, Cindric was set to take over the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford next year, replacing fan favorite Matt DiBenedetto. But now with Cindric in the No. 2 car, Xfinity Series driver Harrison Burton will pilot the No. 21.
Despite all the shuffling and changes, this still means DiBenedetto — who’s been driving for Wood Brothers Racing, which has a technical alliance with Team Penske, for the last two seasons — is a free agent and looking for a ride for 2022 and beyond.
In an honest and raw video, DiBenedetto addressed his current situation and said he learned the news Wednesday. The soon-to-be 30-year-old driver has been in this uncertain situation before in his career, and he acknowledged how much it hurts and frustrates him.
He asked fans not to take their anger out on the Wood Brothers because he said they “always will be” family to him. But he also acknowledged the team has struggled this season, calling it “broken,” and said he’s “getting the [expletive] end of the deal.”
In the video, DiBenedetto said:
“I know God has a plan for me. There’s a greater plan, always has been. Blah, blah, blah. But you know what? I didn’t really sleep well last night, and I thought about it and woke up this morning. And, you know, it’s okay to have human emotion and — I’m not gonna lie to you — it’s OK to be pissed off, angry, and bitter and all the above. It just is what it is. We’re humans. We’re not perfect.
“That doesn’t change my faith and knowing there’s a plan for all this and all, but, you know, it doesn’t make enough suck, because it does suck. So, yeah, that is what it is. And so why would I say that I’m, you know, upset and it sucks? Well, obviously, because I don’t know what I’m doing next year. I’ve been through this, we’ve been through this, you guys fans, I’ve been through this journey a lot. And my career’s been full of a lot of heartbreak and frustration and all this. Also, been super fortunate.
“But why would I have these emotions? Because, you know, I was so freakin’ lucky, and still am, to be driving the 21 car. Love it. And I want to get that 100th win for [Wood Brothers Racing] bad. But this 21 team’s also been broken for a while. …
“Now I’m sitting here in a similar situation and not knowing what the future’s going to hold and we’ll figure it out. I do feel like I’ll land on my feet, and it’s all going to be part of a greater plan, and it’s going to work out. It’ll work out greater than ever. I know I’m gonna win the Cup Series, and it’s just amazing what a crazy roller coaster ride of emotion and what the story’s been. And I don’t know why I get through put through these kind of insane tests. I can even script the story the way it is, but it’s just unreal when you look at it.”
Through the first 21 races this season, DiBenedetto and the No. 21 team have two top-5 finishes and five top-10 finishes, including in the last two races where they came in 10th at Road America and ninth at Atlanta. Consistency has been an issue for the group, and in June, they changed crew chiefs.
DiBenedetto — who won the All-Star Race fan vote this year — has never won a Cup Series race, and he has eight top-5 finishes in seven full-time seasons at the sport’s top level.
While fans certainly appreciated his honesty, many are also crushed for him and concerned about his unknown future in NASCAR.