HICKORY, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) - It's been all smiles for Monster Energy Cup driver Matt Dibenedetto in 2019. He's got a new team, a new ride, and making major strides on the track.
"This year was my biggest and best opportunity," Dibenedetto said "I lead the most laps at the Daytona 500 which was amazing."
Dibenedetto’s been racing full time at the cup level since 2015, but things really turned a corner a year and a half ago.
"What actually got me to start doing this is when i threw up relentlessly after on of the Coke 600s," Dibenedetto says. “I get out of the race car sometimes and just didn't feel good. I was cramping up, dehydrated, exhausted. A lot of drivers would, but I'm like, ‘I don't want to do this, so what can I do to better myself?’"
So he hit the gym, but not for your typical workout. He started doing Crossfit at Crossfit Catawba Valley in Hickory.
"Honestly, ever since I’ve started, I get out of the race car and I'm feeling a lot better at the end of the race and that's how you know the results are there."
But these classes are no walk in the park. On this particular day he an intense workout including 500 meter row, 30 wall balls, 20 deadlifts at 215 pounds, and 10 box jump overs. A quick break in between, and repeat for 33 minutes. To sum it up, it’s exhausting.
"33 minutes felt like about 3 hours for me."
Luckily his wife, Taylor, does it with him, and keeps him on track if need be.
"I try to encourage him," she said.
It's the perfect way for the two to spend quality time together while helping Dibenedetto become a better driver.
"You push yourself to limits that you didn't know you possibly could," he said. "So you almost become mentally numb. So that when i'm in the racecar and it's 130 degrees and I'm miserable, I can block some of that stuff out and stay focused on what I need to stay focused on just cause I'm in a lot better shape, and more mentally tough too."