Matt DiBenedetto and his Wood Brothers team are preparing for another Sunday competing in the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series, this time at the virtual Dover International Speedway where the No. 21 Mustang will once again carry the colors and the message of Built Ford Proud.
The iRacing events are NASCAR’s way of giving fans a taste of Cup Series competition while the nation deals with a coronavirus that has prevented real races from being held.
But that’s not all that DiBenedetto, the Wood Brothers and Ford Motor Company have been doing in service of their fellow Americans during the recent crisis.
Ford has shifted factory production to making ventilators and protective equipment to be used by COVID-19 victims and the health care workers who are treating them.
The Wood Brothers, DiBenedetto and their fans have raised more than $33,000 to provide iPads to nursing home residents at 12 different facilities. The iPads allow residents, who are quarantined because of the virus, to communicate via computer with their loved ones on the outside.
DiBenedetto and his wife Taylor are doing videos through Cameo to raise funds for the animal shelter where they adopted their dog Brian. The videos raised $438 in less than 24 hours after they were first offered.
Now DiBenedetto, the Wood Brothers and Ford turn their attention to this weekend’s race at the virtual Dover.
“I didn’t fare too well at Talladega,” DiBenedetto said of the most recent Invitational race. “I was in a couple of crashes.”
While he admits he’s not the best iRacer, he feels much better about his prospects at Dover, which he says requires similar iRacing tactics to one of his better tracks in real life and online, Bristol Motor Speedway.
Both tracks are high-speed concrete ovals.
“Dover is a bigger, faster version of Bristol,” he said. “Hopefully it will be a better race for me.”
With governments in the Southeast beginning to ease restriction put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus, it’s beginning to look like the Cup cars will be back on the track soon, although the initial races likely will be run without fans in the stands. It also appears that the schedule will be tight, with multiple races run in a span of a few days.
DiBenedetto said he’s anxious to get back to work in the real No. 21 Mustang.
“I’m ready to get back behind the wheel and put on a good show for the fans,” he said. “I’m OK with whatever we have to do logistically to get back going.”
In the meantime, there’s Sunday’s iRacing event at Dover, which is set to get the green flag at 1 p.m. Eastern Time, with TV coverage on FOX and FOX Sports 1.