• Riley Herbst and his fellow NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers head to the Pacific Northwest this weekend for the inaugural Pacific Office Automation 147 at Portland (Ore.) International Raceway. The 75-lap race on Saturday around the 1.967-mile, 12-turn road course marks the first NASCAR national touring series race at Portland since the Camping World Truck Series competed there in 1999-2000. While the track hosts the Xfinity Series for the first time, it serves as the second of six road-course races on the 2022 schedule. In late March, the Xfinity Series made its first road-course stop of the year, competing at the 3.426-mile, 20-turn Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas. Herbst finished 26th in that race, one of only four finishes outside of the top-10 for him this season.
• In the Xfinity Series’ last race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, Herbst saw his run of top-10 finishes come to an end. Prior to Charlotte, the driver of the No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing had tallied six straight top-10s, a run highlighted by a season-high third-place finish May 7 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. Herbst appeared to be heading to increase his streak of top-10s to seven at Charlotte until a cut tire on lap 104 sent him into the turn three wall. Forced to pit for repairs, Herbst went four laps down. Nonetheless, he was able to return to the track and finish the race, coming home 25th and avoiding a dreaded DNF (Did Not Finish).
• The Pacific Office Automation 147 will be Herbst’s milestone 90th career Xfinity Series start and his 13th on a road course. In his 12 previous road-course starts, Herbst has finished among the top-10 three times. His best result is seventh, earned twice – August 2020 on the Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway road course and July 2021 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
• In his entire Xfinity Series career, Herbst has earned 13 top-fives and 42 top-10s. His best career finish is second, earned twice – in February 2020 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, and July 2020 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta.
A new week, a new track. Charlotte didn’t turn out how you would’ve liked, but you were still able to avoid a DNF. How do you bounce back after a tough race weekend?
“You have to learn what you can from the past weekend and move on, to be honest. There’s no use in dwelling on what went wrong and you just have to keep moving forward. There’s still a lot of racing left in the 2022 season and you can’t get caught up on one bad race. That’s been the biggest lesson I’ve had to learn. We’ve been performing well so far and we can continue to do so. You have good days and bad. It’s all about how you learn from it.”
We’re heading to Portland, a new track for the Xfinity Series. What are your thoughts heading into the race weekend?
“I’m excited to head to Portland. It’s a brand new track for the Xfinity Series and road courses are always fun. While I struggled at COTA (Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas) earlier this year, I’ve been in the simulator and working with my Monster Energy team on how I can get better. I scored some top-10 finishes last season on road courses, so I know this team can get the job done.”
While your top-10 streak ended, this season has been a big improvement from your first two seasons in the series. Talk about your season so far.
“We’re improving and we’re finishing races. That’s the most important thing. We want to win, but there’s also the points battle that we have to keep our eye on. If we can have another run like we had before the incident at Charlotte, we can keep climbing in the point standings and compete for wins. We have some things to work on, but I have confidence in this team.”