Monster Energy Racing: Riley Herbst New Hampshire NXS Advance

Stewart-Haas Racing Photo

• Riley Herbst and the No. 98 Monster Energy team of Stewart-Haas Racing are riding a wave of consistency heading into Saturday’s Crayon 200 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. They head to the Granite State on a three-race top-10 streak that began with a third-place finish June 25 at Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway followed by a seventh-place drive July 2 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, and then a ninth-place result last Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

•  The Crayon 200 will mark Herbst’s 94th career Xfinity Series start. In total, he has 14 top-fives and 46 top-10s dating back to his first career start on June 17, 2018, at Iowa Speedway in Newton, where he finished an impressive sixth as a 19-year-old. While he has just one previous Xfinity Series start at New Hampshire, which resulted in a 10th-place finish last July, he has two NASCAR K&N Pro Series East starts at the 1.058-mile oval, finishing fourth in 2018 and sixth in 2019.

•  Only nine races remain until the Xfinity Series Playoffs kick off Sept. 24 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, and Herbst finds himself in solid position to make the 12-driver field. He is currently ninth with 582 points, 141 ahead of Anthony Alfredo, who is the first driver below the cutoff line. A win would clinch a spot for Herbst, but the 23-year-old racer from Las Vegas can also point his way in by continuing his string of strong finishes through the final regular-season race Sept. 16 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.

•  Herbst is on track to have a career year in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. In the 17 races run this season, Herbst has earned five top-fives and 12 top-10s, and has finished all but two races. He’s already matched his career-high total of top-fives in a season, first earned last year, and he’s only five top-10s away from matching his career high of 17 in that category as well, which he accomplished in 2020. He’s still in search of his first Xfinity Series victory, but he’s been knocking on the door this season with a pair of third-place finishes – May 7 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway and June 25 at Nashville.

•  SHR has contested five Xfinity Series races at New Hampshire and never finished outside the top-10. Herbst scored the organization’s most recent top-10 last July. In 2019, Chase Briscoe drove the No. 98 Ford Mustang to a sixth-place finish at New Hampshire. Cole Custer made the other three starts at the 1.058-mile oval between 2017-2019, with a best result of second in 2019 wheeling SHR’s No. 00 Ford Mustang.

You’ve been on a strong run ever since the Xfinity Series returned to racing June 25 at Nashville following a two-week break. Did that time off help you and the No. 98 Monster Energy team regroup as you head into these final races before the playoffs begin?

“That two-week break was something we all needed. Those final two races before that were not our best, so I think it was just time to regroup and strategize about what we needed to do to not only make the playoffs, but win. While we weren’t traveling, the entire No. 98 team was working and preparing for that first race back at Nashville. I can’t thank the guys enough for their hard work each and every week.”

While you only have one Xfinity Series start at New Hampshire, you have two starts there in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, and both resulted in top-six finishes. Is New Hampshire another track that fits your driving style?

“I like New Hampshire and I feel I’ve been able to perform well there, but I enjoy going to a lot of different tracks. You can be successful anywhere, and I’ll put in the same amount of work as I do when it’s a track that’s more difficult for me. With that said, I’m excited to head to New Hampshire and have a good weekend there. I think it’s another strong track where we can contend for the win.”

You have a comfortable cushion in the current playoff standings as you’re 141 points above the top-12 cutoff line. What’s the strategy as you head into these final nine races of the regular season?

“The ultimate goal is to win and lock in our spot, but we also have to be conscious that we’re in a good spot to make it on points. It’s all about balancing when to take risks and when to go for points. I feel like we’ll have chances in these final nine races to go for the win, but we also have to be smart about keeping our point advantage. There are still positions to gain in front of us, so it’s really all about strategy. I think Richard (Boswell, crew chief) is really good about knowing when to go for it and when to play it safe.”


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