• Back-to-back races in the Commonwealth of Virginia have Riley Herbst seeking additional riches in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race Friday night at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. The driver of the No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) finished a strong fifth last Saturday at Richmond (Va.) Raceway, and in addition to it being his fourth top-10 in the last four short-track races on the Xfinity Series schedule, it also placed Herbst into the Dash 4 Cash. If Herbst finishes ahead of his fellow Dash 4 Cash combatants – Ty Gibbs, Sam Mayer and AJ Allmendinger – he will get a $100,000 payday and automatic entry into the next Dash 4 Cash round April 23 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
• Herbst didn’t become Dash 4 Cash eligible on his own. He got by with a little help from his friends, namely crew chief Richard Boswell and the No. 98 Monster Energy pit crew. They helped orchestrate Herbst’s fifth-place drive at Richmond. The 23-year-old racer started 24th, but Herbst didn’t stay there long. He was 13th at the end of the first stage and, thanks to quick pit work by his crew, Herbst was among the top-10 for the start of the second stage, ultimately finishing the stage in ninth to pick up two valuable bonus points. The third and final stage consisted of 100 laps and Herbst was methodical on every tour of the track as the race stayed green to the checkered flag, culminating with his third top-five of the season.
• Herbst has made just three Xfinity Series starts at Martinsville. He finished sixth in his debut at the track in October 2020, but then endured a 29th-place finish in his return to Martinsville last April. Herbst rebounded from that spring setback when he returned to Martinsville in fall, earning a solid 10th-place result.
• Getting that 10th-place finish last fall in the Xfinity Series’ prior visit to Martinsville proved Herbst’s resiliency. While running eighth, Herbst was collected in a multicar accident that left him 26th with less than 60 laps remaining. His top-10 track position was out the window as Herbst had to pit so his Monster Energy crew could fix the damage to the right-front of his No. 98 Ford Mustang and get him back on track with four fresh tires and fuel. Herbst methodically made his way forward, rejoining the top-10 with less than 40 laps to go. He then survived two late-race restarts and held steady among the top-10 to collect his 12th top-10 of the season.
• Friday night’s race at Martinsville will mark Herbst’s 84th career Xfinity Series start and his 14th on a short track. Herbst’s history on short tracks has been strong. After finishing an impressive sixth in his first career start in June 2018 at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Herbst has gone on to earn eight other top-10s on short tracks, including in his last four short-track starts – fifth last September at Richmond, third the very next week at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, 10th last October at Martinsville, and fifth last Saturday at Richmond.
Your fifth-place finish last Saturday at Richmond earned you a spot in the Dash 4 Cash Friday night at Martinsville. What are your thoughts heading into this race with a $100,000 payday on the line?
“I honestly feel like we could’ve had a shot to win last weekend at Richmond, which makes me excited to head to another short track this weekend. We’re not only racing for the win this weekend, but also a $100,000 check, which is awesome. I have to have a good day from qualifying to checkered flag if I want to win both, but I think we can do it. This No. 98 Monster Energy team can get the job done.”
Your success on shorts tracks has been impressive with top-10s in each of the last four short-track races. Do you these tracks suit your driving style?
“Man, I’m excited to head to Martinsville under the lights – the second short track in two weeks. I think these tracks are good for a lot of the drivers coming up because it’s like the short tracks we grew up on. We’re all going for the win, but there’s a lot of strategy that goes into short tracks. We have to qualify well to be able to race for wins, though, and that’s what we’re working on. The cars are fast, but we need to put it all together.”
You chose a different path from the other members of your family as their respective racing careers happened in the off-road racing world. Who do you go to for racing advice when your career is on asphalt?
“For racing and in life, I think my cousins and I just go to our dads. We all just kind of talk about racing like the fans do. We’re fans of the sport, and really, of any sport. We just like to watch and take in the motorsports action. The biggest thing is what our grandfather instilled in us. He told us that hard work pays off. He was the vital resource and the role model for that. We always looked up to him. If you wanted something, you had to work for it. Anything was achievable. That’s what I can credit for getting me into NASCAR, where I’m working hard trying to win some races.”