Monster Energy Racing: Riley Herbst Michigan NXS Advance

Riley Herbst Notes of Interest


•  After back-to-back road-course races, Riley Herbst and the No. 98 Monster Energy team are heading back to the familiar sight of an oval with this Saturday’s New Holland 250 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. Fresh off an eighth-place finish on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Herbst is ready to take the speed displayed while turning left and right to the ultra-fast, 2-mile oval that is Michigan. Herbst scored his seventh top-10 of the season at Indianapolis. It was his second top-10 in the last three races, giving the Las Vegas native much needed momentum entering a racetrack built on momentum.


•  Herbst’s front-running consistency has aided his playoff chances greatly. After spending the majority of the season on the outside of the top-12 cutoff to make the seven-race playoffs, Herbst took over the 12th and final playoff spot when the checkered flag dropped at Indianapolis. He and the No. 98 Monster Energy team have made up 64 points in the last three races to hold a 10-point margin over 13th-place Michael Annett heading into Michigan. However, five races still remain in the regular season before the NASCAR Playoffs begin Sept. 25 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. A win would lock Herbst into the playoffs, but the 22-year-old racer from Las Vegas can also point his way into championship contention by continuing his string of strong finishes between Michigan and the playoff cutoff race Sept. 17 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.


•  Saturday’s race will mark Herbst’s 65th career Xfinity Series start and his second at Michigan. He’s on the hunt for his first Xfinity Series victory and he’s driving for a team that has a good history on the 2-mile oval. His NASCAR Cup Series teammate Kevin Harvick has won four of the past five Cup Series races at Michigan and the No. 98 team has never finished outside the top-10. Herbst has excelled on intermediate tracks like Michigan, with his career-best finish of second – earned twice – coming at intermediates (March 2020 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana and July 2020 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta).


•  Despite his limited experience at Michigan with only one Xfinity Series start, Herbst has already proven to be a winner at the track. Herbst scored his second career ARCA Menards Series win last August at Michigan. He started from the pole and led four times for 39 laps to take the victory by 1.456 seconds over runner-up Bret Holmes. In a prelude to that win, Herbst finished second in his second career ARCA start at Michigan in June 2018, starting eighth and leading seven laps.


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


While you didn’t get to race at Michigan last year in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, you did get behind the wheel of an ARCA Menards Series car and promptly led four times for 39 laps en route to the win. Talk about that win and what it meant to you.

“It was so cool to win at Michigan last year in ARCA. It’s such a fun track but, unfortunately, we weren’t able to race there in the Xfinity Series last year. I had the opportunity to get behind the wheel in ARCA and start on the pole, and then we ended up in victory lane. It was a good day. Hopefully, I can repeat that this weekend in my No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang.”


Last week’s eighth-place finish on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway put you above the 12-driver playoff cutline. What do you have to do in the final five races of the regular season to protect your position?

“It’s all because of the hard work that the No. 98 Monster Energy team has put in. To finally be above the cutline in the playoffs is great, but now we have to stay there. The regular season isn’t over yet, so we have to keep putting together good runs. We have a fast Ford Mustang, we’ve had one all season. Now, we have to do what we need to do. Luckily, the next few tracks have been good for me in the past, so hopefully luck is on our side.”


The No. 98 Monster Energy team has shown a lot of speed all season, but especially in the past few weeks. Do you feel like you’re getting into a good rhythm as a team?

“We’re in a good spot. Coming into the season, we were all learning each other and that can take a while. I’ve worked really closely with the crew and Richard (Boswell, crew chief). We’re getting better each and every week thanks to all of the hard work being put in.”