Matt Dibenedetto was recently a guest on NBCSports’ podcast and made it clear that he thinks he has what it takes to be one of the most popular drivers in NASCAR. He believes it is his relatable, old school path into racing and his openness when interacting with fans that could help him become a fan favorite.
“I think I’ve had to go about my whole racing career on such a difficult path and the old school way, it makes me appreciate it way more,” DiBenedetto said. “The fans have been a big part of me getting here and getting sponsors and embracing my story. I do appreciate them way more.
“It’s not that hard to just have fun with them. Not knocking anybody, but I look up to someone like Dale Jr. because he’s just genuine, he’s himself. That’s all you really need to do, you don’t need to act like someone different. Just be your normal old self. They’re just people. You don’t need to act like a huge celebrity and just fly by them. All I do is have fun with them, be different, take videos with them. They love that stuff.”
Dibenedetto is aware that he needs to have a little more success on the track before he can even approach the status of Earnhardt Jr., but he is confident that with a little more success, he can “Take over,” saying:
“That’s why I have that vision that I know I can be a fan favorite. I’m not going to fill Dale Jr.’s shoes. But I feel like if I’m in a position to win races, and we have that kind of media attention, I feel like I can darn near take over the world because it’s all about being different, and I’m different than other people.”
Supreme confidence aside, Dibenedetto does have a good relationship with the legends of the sport, showing that his desire to be the most popular doesn’t mean having to alienate other drivers in his quest. He joked on the podcast that he would mess with Junior, asking him to give him a shot at driving the 88 car after Dale had called Dibenedetto one of NASCAR’s most underrated drivers. He has also gotten advice and help from Tony Stewart.
“It’s cool to have all these people on your side, so if you need to lean on them for advice or favors or help, that’s not going to hurt in the long run in my career.” Dibenedetto said.
Matt has been racing in the Cup Series since 2015 and currently drives the number 32 Ford for Go Fas Racing. He has two top ten finishes but currently has no stage victories or overall wins and will likely miss the playoffs.