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Did Matt DiBenedetto Mislead NASCAR Fans?

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What’s Happening?

Matt DiBenedetto posted another update on his 2024 NASCAR plans, and it was not a good one. He mentioned that he had to pull out of a sponsorship deal for 2024. This came after he led fans to believe he had plans set for 2024 by tweeting out a “Pen” emoji just before the New Year. What happened to DiBenedetto, and, did he mislead the fanbase?

  • Matt DiBenedetto did say in the video that he is going to “Let 2024 racing stuff play out”. He is open to either part-time or full-time driving in 2024.
  • DiBenedetto has had some crazy Silly Seasons during his career. This time, he was let go by Rackley W.A.R. three races early. He also had ugly breakups with The Wood Brothers and Go Fas.
  • Fans were sad to see this update because they want to see him in a ride for 2024. Some mentioned that it was not a good idea to tweet out a pen emoji without confirmed plans.

Everything That Happened

Below is a picture of the pen emoji that DiBenedetto tweeted out back on December 27th. This is commonly a fun way for drivers to tease plans for their upcoming seasons. Noah Gragson started the trend when he re-signed with JRM in the Xfinity Series in the early 2020s, and plenty of drivers have hopped on the bandwagon. Brennan Poole even tweeted out a full picture of a pen on a table just before his move to Alpha Prime was announced.

It seems pretty clear that something was in the works with Matt DiBenedetto, and the video mentioned above said that as well. He had a sponsor at least, but, he made no mention of any rides he was gunning for during this off-season. It doesn’t seem DiBenedetto sent this tweet out for no reason because something was going on. Even then, it’s still strange to send out this type of a tweet without a driver contract.

The question is, what happened behind the scenes? We ultimately do not know. It’s entirely possible that DiBenedetto was misled by a sponsor, and that caused him to jump the gun.

It is not uncommon for sponsor deals to fall apart at the last minute, Kyle Busch told Jordan Bianchi of The Athletic about how Joe Gibbs Racing was looking at Oracle to replace M&M’s. Trevor Bayne told Kelly Crandall of RACER that he had a Truck Series deal in place before a sponsor backed out, and he even speculated that he may have been “catfished”. However, even if DiBenedetto was completely hosed by a sponsor, does that mean he is completely innocent?

Did DiBenedetto Mislead Fans?

Neither Kyle Busch nor Trevor Bayne nor their prospective race teams sent anything out over social media while these things were happening. The reason is that they do not want to mislead the public. If they say one thing, but the deal ends up falling through, then people understandably get very upset.

This is why NASCAR driver contracts and even things like the schedule take so long to get an official announcement. All parties want to wait until everyone has signed on the dotted line to make a legally binding contract.

They may tease or leak news before they announce it, but, that is primarily to drum up hype surrounding whatever the big announcement is. The deal is already in place, but, they want to catch the wave of public attention as well. Drivers often do the same thing.

DiBenedetto sent out a “Pen” emoji, which, in this modern context, usually signifies a driver has signed a driving contract for the upcoming season. DiBenedetto sent that tweet out before he even had a sponsor lined up, or, at least that’s what it looks like to the naked eye.

In fairness, maybe there was a signed deal with a sponsor, and the sponsor breached the contract in some way. A million things could have happened to make DiBenedetto a pure victim of circumstance, but, it’s also possible he jumped the gun, especially given his past.

A Look at DiBenedetto’s Past

Matt DiBenedetto has made a bevy of questionable PR decisions over the last few years. First, he left Go Fas, saying it was “Betting on himself”. In fairness, Go Fas was not a top-tier team, so, many saw this as an underappreciated driver taking a chance at landing the big fish.

Land it he did as he eventually ended up racing for The Wood Brothers in 2020 and 2021. Unfortunately, The Wood Brothers and DiBenedetto had a messy divorce. After he was released, DiBenedetto posted a 9-minute video on social media where he called the team “Broken”, which seemed to burn many bridges with the team. We go more in-depth about that situation in the article below.

Now, fast forward to 2023. Matt DiBenedetto announces in the middle of a Playoff run that he is moving on from Rackley W.A.R. at season’s end. A race team probably does not take well to their driver abruptly announcing their departure while they are in the middle of a Championship run.

Well, Rackley W.A.R. eventually let DiBenedetto go as soon as he was eliminated from the Playoffs. That’s a third team DiBenedetto left on a sour note.

The point is that DiBenedetto has made plenty of PR blunders in his NASCAR career. The “Pen” emoji tweet definitely falls into that category if he had no confirmed plans at the time of the tweet.

Ultimately we do not know everything that happened with Matt DiBenedetto. However, this is just another chapter in an agonizing saga.

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