Ford Performance NASCAR: Riley Herbst Nashville Media Availability

Riley Herbst is pulling double-duty this weekend, driving his usual No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang Dark Horse in the NASCAR Xfinity Series while also competing with Rick Ware Racing in Sunday’s Cup event.  He stopped by the infield media center to talk about both events before practice got underway.

RILEY HERBST, No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang Dark Horse – HAVE YOU DONE ANYTHING FUN IN NASHVILLE THIS WEEK?  “Yes, not this weekend.  Usually, it’s a nice, fun getaway to get down on Broadway, but with it being super hot and running the Cup race as well I’m staying close to the racetrack and not going downtown because it might be a slight problem.  We’re staying close to the racetrack this week.”

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE WHAT YOU GUYS HAVE GONE THROUGH THIS SEASON?  “I think it’s super interesting, to be honest with you, because last week was actually our first back-to-back top 10 of the year, which was a big surprise to me.  That just kind of showed how fast we are to get stage points and be sixth in points, so I feel like if we could finish where we’ve been running, I felt like we would probably be first or second in points, but we’ve had awful finishes.  It just shows how much speed we have because last year we finished really bad and we were really bad in points, but this year we’re finishing bad and we’re still pretty high in points, so that just means we have to execute and put everything together and I think we can close in on the gap.”

CAN YOU SHARE WHAT YOUR PLAN PREFERENCE IS FOR NEXT YEAR?  “I think there’s a lot of things going on behind the scenes, but it’s not really just RIley Herbst it’s Monster Energy as well.  The biggest thing is trying to see what’s right for me, what’s right for Monster Energy.  I have really good people around me with Josh Jones and Kevin Harvick trying to guide me in the right position and I’m gonna lean on their experience.  I have last year and I’m going to again this year and there’s a lot of options on the table, so we’re looking forward to everything and hearing everybody out.”

ARE THOSE CUP OPTIONS?  “It’s all three series.”

AT KANSAS IN THE CUP CAR IT TOOK YOU TIME TO GET UP TO SPEED.  WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST HURDLE IN THAT RACE?  “Truthfully, I don’t think I ever got up to speed at Kansas.  It was pretty dismal, so we’re looking for hopefully a little bit more competitive pace this weekend at Nashville, but they just drive so different.  It’s just completely a 180 and it took me a while to wrap my head around it and I still don’t think my head is fully wrapped around it, so the main goal is to just be a little bit more competitive and try to find some more pace.”

CAN YOU GIVE A BETTER IDEA OF WHAT THE ISSUE WAS AT KANSAS?  “The tire patch is so much bigger.  The steering is way different than a Truck and Xfinity car.  The aero balance is just crazy.  The throttle pedals, they’re not hanging pedals, they’re mounted on the floor.  It’s just small things that you wouldn’t think are huge, but when you grow up doing something one way and then you hop into something and it’s completely different, it’s really hard for people to adjust – at least for me – but I’ve been doing a lot of homework and hopefully we’re gonna be a little bit better this week than we were at Kansas.”

IS A GOOD XFINITY RIDE BETTER THAN A MEDIOCRE CUP RIDE OR IS JUST GETTING TO THE CUP SERIES AS FAST AS POSSIBLE A BETTER ROUTE?  “At least for myself and my sponsor it’s important to be in competitive rides.  I think that’s the easiest way to learn is to surround yourself with good people and put yourself in good equipment.  That’s first and foremost, so I think that’s going to be our priority for us this offseason, where we land, is to be in a ride that’s extremely competitive whether it be in any three series.”

DO YOU FEEL ANY ADDITIONAL PRESSURE LIKE EACH RACE IS AN AUDITION NOW?  “I don’t, honestly, and the reason why I tell you that is because I feel like I’ve surrounded myself with good people.  If we go out and have a good run tomorrow and Sunday in the Cup car I don’t think that solidifies anything and if I go out and do what I did at Kansas I don’t think that solidifies anything either.  It’s just about learning.  It’s about completing all the laps and it’s about becoming a better race car driver.”

IS YOUR PAST SUCCESS HERE A REASON WHY YOU CHOSE THIS RACE TO RUN CUP?  “No.  I didn’t really get much of a choice.  It was kind of what my crew chief, Davin Restivo wanted me to day, what Greg Zipadelli wanted me to do, what was available at Rick Ware Racing, so it was a mix of accumulation and at the end they gave me a list of a few racetracks and I got to pick.  It wasn’t like ‘Ooh, in January, Nashville.’ It wasn’t really like that.”

NASHVEGAS IS A NICKNAME FOR THIS AREA.  WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT BEING A LAS VEGAS NATIVE?  “I think it’s cool.  Obviously, being from Las Vegas I don’t think anything compares to the strip and what Las Vegas has to offer. I feel like it’s the greatest city in the country by any means.  I have had a lot of fun on Broadway and hopefully I can come back here and have some more fun.”

YOU WERE THIRD AND SECOND HERE, SO YOU HAVE ONLY ONE PLACE LEFT TO GO.  “I hope so.  It would make things a lot easier if we were able to win.  I feel like that’s the small piece we’re lacking this year from being a true Championship 4 contender is just our playoff points are a little bit smaller than we’d want at this time in the season, but I think our pace-wise and our team that’s our mentality and I feel like if we can get a win here early in the season, then we can go chase some more stage points and put ourselves in a deep, deep playoff hunt.”

THE 51 HAS HAD SPEED.  DO YOU HAVE ANY HEIGHTENED EXPECTATIONS COMING INTO THIS WEEKEND?  “I feel like Justin has done a really good job.  Him and his crew chief, Chris, have done a really good job together, but I don’t think that really puts anymore pressure or expectations on myself today and tomorrow just because he’s been at this quite a long time and my goal is simple, it’s to complete all the laps and get as much experience as I can for whatever may happen in the future.”

Ford Performance PR