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Matt DiBenedetto to drive Wood Brothers No. 21 in ‘21

Matt DiBenedetto
Matt DiBenedetto. PHOTO: Ted Fleming | Speedway Tribune

Wood Brothers Racing will have Matt Dibenedetto back for another year while Austin Cindric will take over in 2022

Matt DiBenedetto will be back to drive the Wood Brothers Racing famed No. 21 next year before handing the keys over to Austin Cindric in 2022. WBR and Team Penske made simultaneous announcements concerning the two drivers.

Penske released a statement that Cindric has signed a long-term deal with the team, extending the driver development program with the 23-year old. He will drive the No. 22 XFINITY Series Mustang full-time along with select Cup Series races.

“As we continue to position our team for future success, it is important to make sure Austin continues his development in the Xfinity Series with Team Penske,” said Roger Penske in a release. “Austin has made great strides in recent years, and he has become a consistent winner and a true championship contender this season. He will continue his natural progression and get some Cup Series experience in 2021. That will help him prepare for a full season in 2022 with the new NextGen car, racing the No. 21 Ford Mustang for Wood Brothers Racing.”

CUP SERIES GETTING ANOTHER RISING STAR

Cindric has quite an impressive 2020 resume. He became just the second driver in series history to win five races in the span of six events earlier this season. Along with his series-best 17 top-five finishes and over 800 laps led, he captured the 2020 NXS Regular Season Championship and entered the Playoffs tied for the top seed. He is currently positioned second in points following the second race of the NXS Playoffs last weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.

Austin Cindric

Austin Cindric, driver of the #22 Snap-On Ford, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco 300 at Kentucky Speedway on July 10, 2020 in Sparta, Kentucky. Credit: 367347Jared C. Tilton | Getty Images via NASCAR Media

“This is a big step forward in my career long-term, and I am humbled and motivated by the opportunity and the confidence that Team Penske, Ford Performance, the Wood Brothers, and all of our partners have expressed in my abilities and my development as a driver,” said Cindric. “Every race car driver wants to advance in his career, and I can’t think of a better way to do that than on a clear path with Team Penske that will eventually lead to a full-time opportunity in the NASCAR Cup Series. I’m really excited for this next chapter in my development to continue working towards competing and trying to win at the highest level. Another season of experience in the Xfinity Series will be beneficial and I’m looking forward to competing in some Cup Series races in 2021 to prepare for a full season in 2022.”

HE WANTED TO COME BACK

Meanwhile, Matt DiBenedetto will get one more year with WBR to build on his 2021 season. Since joining Wood Brothers Racing earlier this year, DiBenedetto has earned three top-five finishes and eight top-10 results this season. He qualified for the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs for the first time in his six-year career, competing in NASCAR’s premier series. DiBenedetto finished as runner-up in both Cup Series races at Las Vegas this season, including in the Playoff round at the 1.5-mile track on September 27. He also came within a few feet of earning his first Cup Series victory in last weekend’s race at Talladega Superspeedway.

“It’s such an honor to be able to continue to drive for Wood Brothers Racing and have another year to grow with this organization,” said Matt DiBenedetto. “I am excited to learn from our 2020 notebook, and I’m confident that with a full season under our belt and working together as a team, we will produce even better results. I also want to thank Ford Performance and Team Penske for their efforts in making this happen. These types of decisions take a lot of time, as we all know there are a lot of factors in play. All three groups want to make the best decisions for everyone involved, and I’m appreciative to have the opportunity to continue to compete for such a legendary race team.”

Information from Team Penske and Wood Brothers Racing contributed to this report.

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