Matt DiBenedetto, driving the No. 21 Built To Lend a Hand Ford Mustang in Sunday’s eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race at the virtual Talladega Superspeedway, said the race likely will be the virtual equivalent of a real Cup event at Talladega.
“I would guess it’s going to be great entertainment,” DiBenedetto said.
Regular races at Talladega often see a variety of strategies employed, and there invariably will be a “Big One” multi-car crash. DiBenedetto said the same factors likely will be in play on Sunday.
“Maybe people will play it safe and ride around,” he said. “I’m kind of curious to see if everyone goes all out or plays it safe.”
DiBenedetto said he plans to run some practice races before Sunday so he can get a sense of how the race might play out.
“That will dictate how I run the race,” he said, adding that he also will consider forging some alliances with potential drafting mates.
During races, DiBenedetto uses the app Discord to communicate with his spotter and others, and for Talladega he might include some fellow drivers in his group, which would give them the opportunity to work together in the draft.
“Maybe we can come up with a good game plan,” he said.
A good game plan also describes the efforts by his sponsor to help America deal with the crisis brought about by the coronavirus.
The Ford Built to Lend a Hand initiative includes the company efforts to build medical devices and protective gear as well as a program by Ford Credit to offer six months of payment relief for purchasers of new vehicles.
There also are remote shopping options for Ford customers, and Ford dealers are remaining open for service, which includes cleaning and disinfecting vehicles.
As a way of saying thanks to first responders on the pandemic front, Ford is offering $500 bonus cash on the purchase of a qualifying new vehicle.
All that is in addition to Ford’s Project Apollo, the name given to an initiative to help design and build ventilators, respirators, face masks and face shields.
The project’s name come from the ingenuity and innovative ideas that NASA engineers and astronauts used to come up with quick solutions using current partsand pieces to save lives during the Apollo 13 mission.
In that 1970 mission, which was to have landed astronauts on the moon, the explosion of an oxygen tank put the astronauts’ lives in peril, but the crew circling the moon and engineers back on Earth came up with work-arounds that allowed the crew to safely return home.
A key part of Ford’s work is partnering with 3M to manufacture Powered Air-Purifying Respirators and with GE Healthcare to expand production of a simplified version of GE’s existing ventilator.
Ford, in cooperation with the UAW, also is assemblingmore than 100,000 critically needed plastic face shields per week at a Ford manufacturing site and leveraging its in-house 3D printing capability to produce components for use in personal protective equipment. More than twomillion face shields have been shipped.
Like the Apollo 13 astronauts and engineers, Ford and its partners are using already available resources to quickly produce equipment needed for Covid-19 patients, first responders and health care workers.
The projects are a continuation of the community spirit exhibited by Ford throughout its 117-year history, as evidenced by its building of Jeeps and bombers in World War II to iron lungs for use during the polio epidemic to building Mission Control for NASA in the 1960s.
For more information on Ford’s programs, visit: https://www.ford.com/
Sunday’s race at the virtual Talladega Superspeedway is set to get the green flag at 1 p.m. with TV coverage on FOX, FOX Sports 1 and the FOX Sports app.