• As a native of Las Vegas, Riley Herbst should feel right at home in Nashville. The capital of Tennessee may be best known as Music City, but its bright lights and lively nightlife have earned it another nickname – “Nashvegas.” That Nashville Superspeedway is an intermediate-style oval makes Herbst feel even more welcome. His history at intermediates is strong. His best career NASCAR Xfinity Series results have come at intermediates, where he owns a pair of second-place finishes – Feb. 29, 2020 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, and July 9, 2020 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta.
• In his first outing on Nashville’s 1.333-mile concrete oval in last year’s Tennessee Lottery 250, Herbst started 20th and finished 10th. Getting there, however, wasn’t as straightforward. Herbst worked his way into the top-15 by lap 39 and held the position until the end of first stage. But then in the final stage, Herbst and his No. 98 Monster Energy team were hit with two pit-road penalties. This dropped Herbst to the last car on the lead lap. Nonetheless, Herbst was able to overcome this bout of adversity to claw his way into the top-10. A caution on lap 181 set up a green-white-checkered finish. Herbst smartly opted to restart in the preferred line and it paid off as he scored his fourth top-10 of the season.
• The Tennessee Lottery 250 will mark Herbst’s 91st career Xfinity Series start. In total, he has 13 top-fives and 43 top-10s.
• While last year’s race was Herbst’s first at Nashville Superspeedway, it wasn’t his first in Music City. He has two starts in the ARCA Menards Series just 40 minutes west at the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway. His best finish was seventh, earned in April 2017 during his first fulltime ARCA season.
After two weeks off, you’re back to racing. How did you spend the past two weeks away from the racecar?
“I think we all needed a reset these past two weeks. We hit a slump right before the break with finishes outside the top-10 at Charlotte and Portland. For myself, I went home to Las Vegas to spend time with family and celebrate my dad’s birthday. It was nice to just take a step back and recollect myself. I’m ready to get back to the track, though, and start another top-10 streak as we continue to move toward the playoffs.”
You should feel right at home in “Nashvegas” this weekend after growing up under the neon lights of Las Vegas. How excited are you to get back to Nashville Superspeedway for Saturday’s Tennessee Lottery 250?
“I’m pumped to head back to Nashville. The city itself is fun and so is the racing. I don’t know how to describe it, but the track works with my style of racing. This is a race that I had circled on the calendar for this summer – similar to Charlotte. It can be a difficult track, but you just have to put the pieces together. No mistakes, fast pit stops, and speed in the racecar.”
You scored a top-10 last year at Nashville in your first start at the track. Talk about your thoughts heading into this year’s race.
“We’re preparing like we always do, but I’m confident heading into Nashville. Last year was my first race there, and while mistakes were made, we finished top-10. I think that we’ve grown a lot since then. We’ve gotten better. We only had three top-10s on the season going into that race, but this year we have nine. If we can minimize the mistakes and stay out of trouble, we can get the job done this Saturday.”