FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Centerville, Tenn. (July 31, 2023) – For the first time in Rackley W.A.R.’s history, Matt DiBenedetto has put the Craftsman Truck Series team into the playoffs. Defying the odds, the third-year organization has become the first Tennessee-based Truck Series team to put itself in position to race for a championship.
“A little over 2 1/2 years ago, Willie Allen (Rackley W.A.R. President and Chief Operating Officer) and I started a journey of owning and operating a NASCAR Truck Series team,” Rackley W.A.R. Chief Executive Officer Curtis Sutton explained.
“Our desire was to keep the business small-town based and in the community of Centerville, Tennessee (Hickman County), where Willie was born and raised and has operated a successful race program for many years.”
Despite the naysayers who told the pair that “it would be very difficult to build a competitive truck team out of a small town in Tennessee,” Rackley W.A.R, defied the odds and did it anyway.
“We, as individuals and business owners, don’t run from difficulties; we take them on as a challenge.”
After opening the season with a 20th-place finish in a rain-shortened race at Daytona International Speedway, the No. 25 team scored just three top 10s and had two DNFs in the following eight races. Sitting outside the top 10 in the championship standings, with very little momentum on their side, something had to give within the organization.
“We really got together and regrouped and said our number one priority, all of us together, has got to be consistency and minimizing mistakes,” DiBenedetto explained before the race in Richmond.
“In the Truck Series, there’s a lot of mistakes, the races are crazy. From all of us, not just the team but me included, we all just really focused on consistency.”
That’s when things started to come together for the No. 25 team. What began with a third place run at North Wilkesboro Speedway turned into a stretch of six straight top-10 finishes in the final seven races of the season. As a result, DiBenedetto moved from 11th in points nine races into the year to eighth with a 31-point advantage heading into the final race of the regular season at Richmond Raceway.
“Everyone’s just really come together and shown them what we’re capable of. It’s been a lot of different things combined,” DiBenedetto continued.
“Our communication keeps getting better, we’re just having better, faster trucks. It’s taken a little bit of everything.
“Early in the year we had some challenges to overcome and we had some little failures and some things that started our season off not totally the way we wanted, and we had to climb out of that a bit. Tons of credit to everyone; Rackley Roofing, W.A.R. Shocks, Chevrolet, everyone.”
While any team’s goal is to win as many races as possible, the mission was simple at Richmond: run a clean race and take the team to the playoffs.
Despite struggling with a loose truck for much of the race that was slowed for just two incidents outside of stage breaks, DiBenedetto brought the No. 25 Rackley Roofing Chevrolet home in one piece with a 17th-place finish and the organization’s first playoff appearance.
“Tonight wasn’t quite the run that we wanted; we were just a little bit off,” DiBenedetto said after the race. “Then we tried to play the tire game and didn’t catch a caution, so we sacrificed a few positions. Either way, that’s not really what matters. We’re in the playoffs now, man.”
DiBenedetto finishes the Truck Series regular season with one top five and nine top 10s, already exceeding his total top-10 results from 2022. He’s also led 14 laps compared to one last season, and his average finish has improved by two positions, despite the rocky first half of the year.
“Coming into this deal, I think we both (Allen and Sutton) had ambitions to build a winning organization,” Allen said of his expectations when entering the Truck Series.
“Both of us said from the start, we don’t care about just being there at all; it’s all about being competitive and going after championships.
“I think it’s big for our race team being outside the Charlotte area, we had a lot of naysayers that said we couldn’t make it. To be able to do that with this team and continuing to grow, it’s definitely very exciting.”
Having already owned a successful late-model team for several years, Allen bucked the odds by staying rooted in a small town in western Tennessee, rather than relocating to North Carolina where most of NASCAR’s top three series teams are headquartered.
“It’s a very small community with a lot of support from family friends and everyone in the community.”
The perfect crew chief to lead the way? Chad Kendrick, who came into the venture without “any negative thoughts coming to Nashville.” While others suggested the team split its time between Centerville and Charlotte, North Carolina, “… there really wasn’t ever a thing out of Chad’s mouth that we couldn’t make it work in Nashville.
“He didn’t see why we couldn’t do it either; he’s been motivated and has a whatever it takes attitude.”
Additionally, Allen brought his experience from behind the wheel, something that has proven to be invaluable. He ran the full 2007 season for ThorSport Racing, where he won Rookie of the Year in the NASCAR Truck Series, and most recently made two starts during the team’s inaugural season in 2021.
“Coming from the driver side, I feel like I learned stuff, positive things to do and a lot of stuff you don’t want to do, so I think that’s definitely been beneficial,” he said. “And working with so many people and drivers the last 10 or 15 years through our late model program and Chevy, it’s been awesome to see different leadership styles, different driving styles, so many different types of personalities throughout the racing community has been really good.
“We’ve got a lot of key people that just bust their butts and everyone’s striving to be better and continuing to grow. Just looking forward to seeing how far we can go in the playoffs.”
DiBenedetto is seeded ninth out of 10 drivers racing for the championship.
“Willie and I want to personally thank the entire Rackley W.A.R. team and our passionate fans,” Sutton said. “We are not just satisfied with making the playoffs; we want to win the entire thing.”
The Truck Series playoffs begin Friday, August 11 at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis, followed by visits to the Milwaukee Mile and Kansas Speedway to close out the Round of 10. Race coverage for the TSport 200 begins at 9:00 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1.
ABOUT RACKLEY W.A.R.
Rackley W.A.R. offers motorsports competition, development, marketing, management, and a suite of other industry-related services for professional race car drivers, race teams and industry sponsors. Rackley W.A.R. competes nationally in the NASCAR Craftsman® Truck Series with driver Matt DiBenedetto as well as operating a driver development program based at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway and in regional Super and Pro Late Model events. Rackley W.A.R. is headed and co-owned by Curtis Sutton (Rackley Roofing, Inc.) and Willie Allen (Willie Allen Racing and W.A.R. Shocks, LLC)