Matt DiBenedetto didn't put too much thought into a strategy en route to winning the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Bowman Gray Stadium in North Carolina. On the tiny, quarter-mile bull ring, staying out front and out of trouble was the only strategy he needed.
Matt DiBenedetto wins NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Bowman Gray Stadium
Matt DiBenedetto leads the pack at Bowman Gray Stadium
"It was kind of what I expected, but a little more wrecks than I thought it would be," said the 19-year-old DiBenedetto. "It's just so tight to try and put a 3,300-pound stock car on a quarter-mile bull ring. It was a blast for sure. All the bumping and banging, it was just old school."
DiBenedetto won his first K&N Pro Series East race of the season and moved into second place in the East Series standings after five races. The K&N Pro Series East was making its first visit to Bowman Gray Stadium, one of the first tracks NASCAR raced at in the 1940s. The track was the site of a number of historic NASCAR races, including Richard Petty's 100th career win.
"It was wild for sure," DiBenedetto. "The fans got a heck of a show. It was a blessing getting out there in front right at the beginning and lead from the start. That's what I wanted to do, but I didn't think it would work getting around the outside."
NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Bowman Gray Stadium in North Carolina
DiBenedetto led all 156 laps of the Army Strong 150. He started on the front row and took the lead from pole winner Coleman Pressley on the first lap.
"We just got out front, stayed out of trouble a little bit," DiBenedetto said. "It was a wild night for sure. It was just a race for survival. It was finally our turn, good points day, it was a blast."
The tiny track produced a record number of wrecks. There were 15 cautions for 87 laps, a season high. DiBenedetto held off Corey Lajoie to win the race on a green-white-checkered flag finish.
"I was focused on treating every restart like it was a green-white-checkered," DiBenedetto said. "If I would have lost that position and gone back to second, I felt like that would have been the race, no matter if it was early or late in the race. It just showed we could get out front and just stay there."
Lajoie posted his best finish of the season in second place. It was his second top-five finish of the season.
"Second place is our best run of the year," Lajoie said. "Hopefully we can continue on. We need to put a couple strings of good runs together to get back in the points table."
Ben Kennedy, the grandson of Bill France Jr., finished third, the best result of his career in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.
"I definitely had a ton of fun out there," Kennedy said. "A bunch of bumping and banging definitely â€“ patience is the key and a lot of fun."
Darrell Wallace Jr. finished sixth and took over the lead in the K&N Pro Series East standings. He is 17 points ahead of DiBenedetto.
"I can't take all the credit on my side, because there's a lot of luck involved. It was wild," DiBenedetto said. "I was just praying for the luck to continue. That was about it. I had no real strategy other than staying out front and however the cautions fell."
The Army Strong 150 will be televised on Speed on Thursday at 6 p.m. ET.
The next K&N Pro Series East race is Saturday at Gresham Motorsports Park in Jefferson, Ga.
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