February 26, 2017: Daytona 500

Daytona: (February 26, 2017) – MATT DIBENEDETTO — No. 32 E.J. Wade Foundation Ford Fusion (Finished 9th) — “That’s a heck of a way to start the year. Holy cow. We survived. We got in that one crash and we hit pretty hard. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s gonna be a long day,’ but the guys did a great job patching it up. It still ran fine. I had good speed. The motor ran great all day, so it was cool. We have the E.J. Wade Foundation on the car for the first time here and it’s awesome to get them a top-10 in their first outing, so it’s a great cause for what they do. I’m excited to be back racing and thankful to have a ride.”

ONLY 15 GUYS AT THE SHOP WORKING ON THIS CAR. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO HAVE A RESULT LIKE THIS? “We’ve taken the team and brought in some really good people. I’m so lucky to have my crew chief, Gene Nead, who came in and assembled some of the best guys we could possibly get, so we have some real quality people, some of the folks that were at BK with me. It’s amazing to have that tight of a group, where they are so dedicated to follow me and Gene wherever we go. That’s special. You don’t find that often, so we have such a great relationship and I think that’s where we’re gonna turn a lot of heads this year and surprise everybody. You’re only as good as the people around you and we have really good people. I’m fortunate to have them. We’re gonna turn some heads. We have 15 employees total versus some people who have 400-500, but we have 15 good, quality people and our goal is to overacheive all year.”

DID YOU KNOW WHERE YOU WERE WHEN THE CHECKERED FLAG FLEW? “No, I didn’t honestly. The whole race we were pitting multiple times just trying to make sure it was fixed properly and taking our time and we just kept picking them off one at a time and it turned out to be a great day.”

DOES THIS FEEL BETTER THAN THE BRISTOL FINISH? “It was definitely different. This one was a little bit more survival. That one was a little bit more racing up there, so I would say they’re different feelings, but being in the Daytona 500 in the first place is unbelievable, so I’m gonna say this one does feel really good just because it’s the Daytona 500 and it’s been my dream since I was five to even be in it, so to get a top-10 in it, I’m just checking off all these dreams come true.”