Monster Energy Racing: Riley Herbst Talladega NXS Advance

Stewart-Haas Racing Photo

•  Back from a well-deserved break during the NASCAR Xfinity Series off weekend, Riley Herbst is ready to get back behind the wheel of the No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang and pick up where he left off. After spending Easter weekend out West, the 23-year-old driver will now travel to the Deep South for Saturday’s Ag-Pro 300 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, the ninth race of the 2022 season. Prior to the off weekend, Herbst earned back-to-back top-10 finishes at two of the shortest tracks on the NASCAR circuit – Richmond (Va.) Raceway and Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. He’ll now move onto the largest oval on the circuit – the 2.66-mile monster known as Talladega.

 •  Two weekends ago, Herbst scored a strong sixth-place finish on the tricky, paperclip-shaped Martinsville oval. He started 11th and ended the first stage 12th after battling a loose-handling racecar. Crew chief Richard Boswell made a key strategy call in the second stage, bringing Herbst to pit road for four tires and fuel on lap 101. The fresh tires gave Herbst the grip he needed to climb to ninth by the end of the stage and pick up two valuable bonus points. After another round of pit stops to begin the final stage, Herbst lined up second and took the lead when the green flag waved before settling into sixth place. He held onto sixth through two overtime restarts to deliver his fifth top-10 of 2022.

 •  Herbst has four previous Xfinity Series starts at Talladega with a best finish of fourth last April with the No. 98 team. The Las Vegas driver was in position to compete for the win when the series returned in October after leading 26 laps and running in the top-10 for a majority of the day. However, Herbst was caught up in the “Big One” with just six laps remaining. 

•  The No. 98 Monster Energy team has had two strong starts on superspeedway-style tracks in 2022. In the season opener at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, Herbst ran in the top-10 for a majority of the day and collected bonus points with his stage finishes. He successfully avoided several accidents to earn a fourth-place finish. Five weeks later, the series arrived at the repaved and newly reconfigured Atlanta Motor Speedway, which is now more akin to a superspeedway than an intermediate track. Despite overheating problems that put him a lap down early in the race, the No. 98 team persevered to get back on the lead lap and earn another fourth-place finish.

 •  Outside of his four Xfinity Series starts at Talladega, Herbst has competed in one NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race and four ARCA Menards Series races at the 2.66-mile oval. His best finish came in ARCA in April 2019 when he just missed victory lane by .149 of a second as the runner-up to race-winner Todd Gilliland. That October, in his one and only Truck Series start at Talladega, Herbst earned a solid third-place finish. 

•  Saturday’s race at Talladega will mark Herbst’s 85th career Xfinity Series start and his 12th on a superspeedway. Herbst’s history on superspeedways has been strong despite their unpredictability. In his 11 prior starts on superspeedways in the Xfinity Series, Herbst has finished in the top-10 five times with a best finish of fourth, earned twice at Daytona, once at Talladega, and earlier this year at Atlanta. 
Riley Herbst, Driver of the No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang
 After eight straight weekends of racing, you earned a break with an off weekend last week. What did you do with your free time?“As much as we love racing, it’s nice to get a break every now and then. I spent the first part of the week in North Carolina working toward Talladega with the team. Even during an off week, there’s work to be done. I actually took some time for Easter to go out West and spend time with my family. It’s always great to take some time to recover and relax when we’re given the opportunity. Now, I’m just ready to get back to the track at Talladega and go racing.” 

Superspeedway races are always a wild card. How do you plan for these races when you don’t have teammates and there are only a handful of Fords in the Xfinity Series?“It’s difficult, for sure, but you have to learn how to work with everyone to get up front. I think we’ve done a really good job of that and overcoming that difficulty on the No. 98 team. We worked with people throughout the field at both Daytona and Atlanta to score top-five finishes. We stayed out of trouble and were up there at the end with chances to win. That’s the plan again for this weekend and, hopefully, we can park our Monster Energy Ford Mustang in victory lane.”

 Prior to the off week, you scored back-to-back top-10 finishes on the short tracks of Richmond and Martinsville. You’re now going to the largest oval on the circuit at Talladega. Talk about your thoughts heading into the race.“Heading from back-to-back short-track races to a superspeedway race like Talladega is exciting. We did well the two weeks prior to the off week and we know how to score top-10s at superspeedways, as well. The goal this year was to perform consistently and we’re doing that. The No. 98 team is already off to a better start this season and, if we keep working hard and getting good finishes, the wins will follow. I know that this team can get it done.”


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