Nascar

Matt DiBenedetto emotionally shaken by heartbreaking Talladega finish: ‘Deja vu, holy cow’

Matt DiBenedetto became emotional Sunday after giving up a late lead to Denny Hamlin at Talladega in the YellaWood 500 and falling short of his first-ever NASCAR Cup Series win.

DiBenedetto entered the competition desperate to prove he deserved a Cup Series team in 2021 with his Wood Brothers future uncertain. A victory would have provided a substantial boost in his employment hopes.

Not only did Hamlin slide past him in a photo finish, but NASCAR officials later determined he had committed a yellow line infraction and penalized him with a 21st-place placement. He apparently pushed William Byron and others below the line during the final stretch.

“It was a crazy finish,” said a choked-up DiBenedetto to NBC. “I haven’t been able to really process it. … My wife and I have had a stressful week again. A lot of uncertainty, fighting for my whole career.”

This wasn’t the first time Hamlin beat out DiBenedetto in dramatic fashion. A similar ending occurred last season at Bristol.

Following that race, Hamlin consoled DiBenedetto and said he felt bad he had taken away DiBenedetto’s potential spotlight moment.

DiBenedetto, not yet knowing about his penalty that moved him back from second in the finishing order, felt bewildered Hamlin passed him late again on Sunday.

“Deja vu, holy cow,” DiBenedetto said. “This is tough.”

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