Despite the fact that Riley Herbst is a rookie in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, his win in Sunday’s ARCA Menards Series VizCom 200 at Michigan International Speedway was particularly gratifying since he hadn’t won a race in any series since 2017.
And he did it after competing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race on Saturday at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
“When you don’t win for a while it starts to mess with you and gets in your head,” said Herbst, who last won on June 9, 2017 in an ARCA Menards Series race at Pocono Raceway. “You just have to be strong, keep doing what you’re doing, work hard and do your homework. Having fast cars that Joe Gibbs Racing gives me, sooner than later you’re going to crack the door and get a win. It feels good, no matter what series. Wins are hard to come by.”
Second-place finisher Bret Holmes was in command during the early parts of the race, leading the first 61 of the 100-lap race. It was on the final restart, however, that Herbst made his move and never looked back.
“Clean air is everything, especially with these bigger tapered spacers you can’t get runs or anything like that,” said Herbst, who led the race’s final 33 laps. “Tony Hirschman on top of the spotters stand for me said we had to get it done on a restart if we wanted to win this race, just because it’s tough to pass with the big spoiler and low horsepower. We were aggressive on side-drafting and made it work. So we got it done on the restart.”
The finish by Holmes was his ninth straight in the top-7, a stretch which included a win at Kansas Speedway on July 24. Nevertheless, there wasn’t much satisfaction for the Munford, Alabama native.
“It’s just frustrating, said Holmes. “On the intermediate tracks we come to win these races, not run second. I want to be happy about that but we come to these races to win. We did a lot of side-drafting and it was fun there at the beginning. It was still a good run today, but it’s hard not to be mad, especially after leading.”
The top-5 was rounded out by Michael Self (3rd), Drew Dollar (4th) and Anthony Alfredo (5th). Self, Holmes and Dollar stand 1-2-3 in the ARCA Menards Series championship points standings, with 544, 540 and 503, respectively.
The field for the VizCom 200 included Armani Williams, who hails from Grosse Pointe, Michigan. A part-time driver in the ARCA Menards Series, the 20-year old Williams is the first NASCAR driver openly diagnosed on the autism spectrum. The VizCom 200 was his second race of the season after competing at Phoenix on March 6. He finished 10th in today’s race.
“It was a special day,” said Williams, who is a junior, majoring in mechanical engineering at Oakland University in Michigan. “I can’t thank Centria Autism enough, because without their support and goal to raise awareness of autism and racing, none of this would have been possible. Since we didn’t have a lot of ARCA starts, we came in with the mindset of keeping our nose clean, get to the end and salvage a top-10, which we did. The fact that this was my first race at MIS I had a blast and a lot of fun. It was a really, really big day.”