|• Riley Herbst enters Saturday night’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on a short-track attack. The driver of the No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing rolls into the .526-mile oval with top-five results in the series’ last two short-track races. He finished fifth Sept. 11 at the .75-mile Richmond (Va.) Raceway and third Sept. 17 at the .533-mile Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. Martinsville marks the fourth and final short-track race of the 2021 season. |
• Martinsville will serve as a milestone for Herbst. Saturday night’s race will be the Las Vegas-native’s 75th career Xfinity Series start. Herbst will be in his familiar Monster Energy colors while racing under the lights on the flat and fast .526-mile oval. Eleven of Herbst’s 74 career Xfinity Series starts have come on short tracks. He has collected seven top-10s on short tracks, with his best result being his most recent – third Sept. 17 at Bristol.
• Herbst has made just two Xfinity Series starts at Martinsville. He finished sixth in his debut at the track last October, but then endured a 29th-place finish in his return to Martinsville this past April when a cut left-rear tire after contact with another car forced Herbst to make an unscheduled pit stop. Instead of running among the top-five like he had to start the final stage, Herbst went three laps down with only 86 laps remaining in the race.
• When the Xfinity Series raced at Martinsville last October, it marked the division’s first visit to the track in 13 years. Prior to its return, the last Xfinity Series race at Martinsville took place on July 22, 2006. Kevin Harvick defeated Clint Bowyer by .271 of a second. Herbst was 7 years old. Today, a 22-year-old Herbst races for the same team as Harvick.
• While a championship isn’t in the cards for Herbst this year, there’s still a points battle to be fought. Herbst protected his 11th-place point standing with a 13th-place drive last Saturday at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. Herbst wants to increase his 14-point margin over 12th-place Jeremy Clements while cutting into the 38-point advantage 10th-place Myatt Snider currently holds over him. Herbst has already proven his ability to make up a large swath of points in a relatively short period of time. Between the July 17 race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon and the Sept. 17 race at Bristol, Herbst erased a 54-point deficit to not only climb back into the top-12, but secure a 100-point margin over the top-12 playoff cutline.
|Riley Herbst, Driver of the No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang|
| You’ve made 11 career Xfinity Series starts on short tracks and finished among the top-10 in seven of those races, one of which came at Martinsville last October. What is your outlook for Saturday night’s race at Martinsville?“Our finishes at short tracks this season have been trending upward, for sure. We finished third at Bristol and would’ve had a shot at the win if we had another lap. Richmond was another one where we were there at the end and probably could’ve gotten up there to compete for the win if we had another couple of laps. I’m ready to see what we can do this weekend at Martinsville.” |
Talk about your history at Martinsville.“Martinsville is a tough track. I had a good run last year with a top-10, but then when I came back in the spring, we were running well before a spin took us out of contention. The situation can change fast at Martinsville, so it can be difficult to plan anything. Hopefully, we can keep our Monster Energy Ford Mustang out of trouble and be there at the end Saturday.”
With only two races remaining this season, what have you learned that you’ll carry into next year with the No. 98 Monster Energy team?“Honestly, we’ve learned a lot since Daytona. I’m proud of how much this Monster Energy team has grown since our first race. We’ve come a long way from that brand new driver-team combo when the season started in February. We’ve been able to do a lot with the cards that have been dealt. The good news is that we’ve got another season together to continue to improve. Big things are coming for us.”