Monster Energy Racing: Riley Herbst Watkins Glen NXS Advance

Riley Herbst Notes of Interest


•  After two weeks off, Riley Herbst and the No. 98 Monster Energy team are back in action this Saturday for the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International. The series returns to the 2.45-mile, seven-turn road course for the first time since August 2019 after the COVID-19 pandemic put the track’s 2020 event on hold. Herbst, who was a rookie in 2020, will make his first Xfinity Series start at the track on Saturday, but it won’t be his first start at The Glen. Herbst competed in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race in 2019, finishing 12th.


•  With only seven races remaining until the seven-race Xfinity Series playoffs begin, Herbst is on a mission to close the points gap and lock in his spot among the top-12 drivers in points. Herbst is currently just outside the playoff cutoff spot in 13th, 32 points behind 12th-place Michael Annett, but the Monster Energy driver made up 22 points in the series’ last race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, where Herbst finished 10th.


•  Saturday’s race will mark Herbst’s 63rd Xfinity Series start. Herbst is hunting for his first Xfinity Series win and the road course at The Glen might just be the place he can get it. Consider, seven of the past eight winners at Watkins Glen have been Ford drivers. In addition, the No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang from Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) has never finished outside the top-10 at the track. Herbst finished seventh in his last road-course race at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.


•  SHR has made six Xfinity Series starts at Watkins Glen and only finished outside the top-10 once. In 2019, Chase Briscoe drove the No. 98 Ford Mustang to a sixth-place finish. Aric Almirola also drove the No. 98 Ford Mustang to a fifth-place finish in 2018. In 2017, Kevin Harvick scored a sixth-place finish. Cole Custer owns the other three starts, with his best result being a sixth-place drive in 2018 behind the wheel of SHR’s No. 00 Ford Mustang.


Riley Herbst, Driver of the No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang


You have eight career road-course starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, but none at Watkins Glen. However, you do have one NASCAR K&N Pro Series East start at the track. What are your expectations heading into Saturday’s race?

“Watkins Glen is a tough track. With the pandemic, I wasn’t able to get a start there in my rookie season, but I do have that one K&N Pro Series start from 2019. I’m excited to go back and get my No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang onto a road course. We have a great road-course package and finished seventh at Road America. Hopefully, we’ll be up front and racing for a win at the end of the day.”


You’ve had two weeks off from racing. What did you do with the downtime?

“It was a nice break to take a step back and regroup before these final races of the regular season. It was a mix of work and fun. I was still doing media interviews and working with the guys, but I also was able to go back home to Vegas to spend some time with my family before the season really got crazy again. These breaks are definitely a great chance to relax before it’s non-stop racing until November.”


With only seven races to go in the regular season, you’re sitting 13th in the points standings and chopping away at the points gap for the final playoff spot. What are your goals for the last seven races before the playoffs begin in your hometown of Las Vegas?

“We’re working hard to get above the cutline in the point standings. This season has had a lot of ups and downs, but hopefully we’re finding our momentum as we head into these final races. We deserve to be in the playoffs at Vegas. The No. 98 team has worked hard to get better all season and we’re seeing improvements each and every race. A win would be the perfect solution to the points problem, but we’re not out of it, yet. We just need to keep the speed up, collect points and stay out of trouble for the final few races of the regular season so we can claim our spot.”