Matt DiBenedetto's dream Daytona 500 run shattered when he has caught up in a 21-car wreck with 10 laps remaining.

DiBenedetto led a race-high 49 laps in Sunday’s Daytona 500, more than double his career laps led up to that point.

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In his first race driving the No. 95 Levine Family Racing Toyota, DiBenedetto started the 200-lap event in ninth place. He first took the lead on Lap 7 by dispatching Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and held on to it when many drivers pitted early to make it to the end of the first 60 lap stage.

After the stage ending shuffled the order, the Grass Valley, California native found his way back to the front on Lap 74 with help from fellow Toyota Kyle Busch. He led the next 33 laps until an accident between Casey Mears and Parker Kligerman brought out the yellow on Lap 108.

DiBenedetto held steady inside the top ten for much of the race’s second half, but everything literally took a 180-degree turn in an instant on Lap 190. Paul Menard tagged DiBenedetto’s right rear and sent him careening into the path of a pack of cars and out of the race.

Following the crash, DiBenedetto harboured no ill will towards Menard and tried to the positives out of the situation.

“Just a racing deal, not anything intentional,” he said. “I talked to Paul there, I think he was trying to get to my outside – clipped my right rear. Just racing hard.

“This was the most fun speedway event that I have ever had in my life being able to lead and do some incredible things. I have an amazing team, people can see what we’re doing here. These guys at Levine Family Racing – they took a heck of a chance on me but we proved what we’re here to do.

“I’m very heartbroken but appreciative to be here.”

Menard accepted the blame for the accident and owed to hard racing as the laps wound down.

“It was go time and I was pushing the 95, and he was trying to get to the middle, so I tried to get to the outside and just barely hooked him,” he said. “Wrecked a lot of cars and I feel bad about that.”

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