Matt DiBenedetto and the Wood Brothers team are headed to Michigan International Speedway with a black No. 21 Mustang adorned with a paint scheme honoring Ford’s auto technicians.
The NewFordTech.com paint scheme will be used in both ends of a double-header that kicks off Saturday afternoon and concludes Sunday afternoon.
The No. 21 Mustang has been used to honor technicians in the past at Michigan, but this year’s theme carries an extra significance given the efforts the company’s technicians have put in during the ongoing pandemic.
Demand for vehicle work has remained strong in the months since COVID-19 has swept across the country, which only emphasizes the deficit of automotive technicians needed vs. how many are in the field. Those interested in starting a new career in this field can go to NewFordTech.com, where Ford will help guide visitors find a starting point that matches their needs.
High school students interested in becoming Ford or Lincoln automotive technicians have opportunities to continue their education at over 75 post-secondary training locations throughout the country, including the Ford Automotive Student Service Educational Training (ASSET) program and Ford Accelerated Credentials Training (FACT) program.
NASCAR and its race teams also have had to adjust to pandemic times, thus the double-header at Michigan, which is part of a schedule shuffle intended to get all of the 36 scheduled Cup Series races run this season.
DiBenedetto said he’s looking forward to driving the black No. 21 NewFordTech.com Mustang in the twin 312-mile races, which will be the second time this season that the Cup Series has run back-to-back races at the same track. The first was at Pocono Raceway on June 27-28.
“I like the double-headers,” he said. “Pocono was pretty fun. You learn a lot the first day that you can apply to the second.”
It’s more fun for DiBenedetto because the No. 21 Mustang has been fast in recent weeks.
“I’m looking forward to continuing to have fast cars,” he said. “Michigan requires a different style of racing. You’re in the throttle a lot, almost wide open all the way around the track.”
One aspect that isn’t different, he said, is the importance of track position and of making the most of the opportunities presented by restarts, an area in which he and his spotter Doug Campbell have excelled this year.
“Restarts are really important,” DiBenedetto said. “If you get stuck in the wrong lane on a restart you can lose eight spots.
DiBenedetto said races at Michigan take on an added importance for him and the Wood Brothers because of the team’s decades-long association with Ford.
“It’s a really special race for us,” he said. “The Wood Brothers have always had a close relationship with Ford.”
DiBenedetto said he’s confident the weekend will be a good one for him, his team and his sponsor.
“There are lot of good things to look forward to,” he said. “I feel like we’re really hitting our stride.”
Saturday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 is set to get the green flag just after 4 p.m. Eastern Time, and Sunday’s Consumers Energy 400 is set for a 4:30 p.m. start. Both races will be televised on NBCSN.