• Saturday’s Contender Boats 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway will serve as Riley Herbst’s fourth career NASCAR Xfinity Series start at the 1.5-mile oval. The driver of the No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing has been a model of consistency at the South Florida track with an average finish of 10th. In his two starts at Homestead in 2020, Herbst finished 10th and ninth, respectively. In last year’s race, a potential top-five run was derailed when contact with another car just past the race’s midpoint left Herbst with front-end damage. Nonetheless, Herbst rallied back to finish 11th.
• While a win is always the goal for Herbst and the No. 98 Monster Energy team, another top-10 finish at Homestead would officially cement 2022 as a career year for the 23-year-old racer from Las Vegas. Herbst has scored 17 top-10s so far this year to tie his season-best top-10 tally, originally earned during his rookie season in 2020. A top-10 at Homestead would put Herbst over the top in this category, allowing him to claim season-highs in top-fives and top-10s, as Herbst long ago surpassed his single-season top-five mark. He has seven top-fives this year, two more than his previous high of five top-fives in 2021. Herbst’s best finish so far this season is third, earned twice – May 7 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway and June 25 at Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway.
• As Herbst eyes a win at Homestead, Stewart-Haas Racing is looking to snare a third victory at the track. Cole Custer earned the first victory for the team in 2017 before scoring back-to-back second-place finishes in 2018 and 2019. Chase Briscoe won the Sunday race of the June 2020 weekend doubleheader after delivering a seventh-place drive the day before.
• Prior to the Xfinity Series’ race last Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Herbst used his hometown connections to score a training session with mixed martial artist and former UFC Light Heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin at the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas. How’d Herbst do alongside the UFC Hall of Famer? Watch here.
You’ve been strong at Homestead in each of your three previous Xfinity Series starts at the track, never finishing outside the top-11. What is it about Homestead that suits your driving style?
“I love Homestead. It’s such a fun racetrack to drive and I honestly enjoy it every time we go down to South Florida. You get to run the wall there, which is pretty cool. There’s a lot of tire fall-off, so you have to be aware of that while you’re racing. Last year, we got some damage halfway through the race, but we were still able to recover for an 11th-place finish. I think we can go back and run up front this weekend. We just have to stay focused and continue to work hard. This Monster Energy team never takes its foot off the gas and we’re going to show that our hard work pays off.”
Monster Energy has been a major supporter of yours since the beginning of your racing career. Talk about the partnership and what it means to have the brand’s support in everything you do.
“Monster Energy has become my family. They’ve been involved with me and my family for so long, and I’m so grateful to represent such an awesome brand. There are so many opportunities we get to experience because of their connections to so many athletes. Their reach is so wide, and everyone knows that iconic Monster claw logo. It’s an honor to be one of the few drivers who gets to wheel that classic, matte-black Monster Energy Ford Mustang every week. I want to thank them with a trip to victory lane.”
Last weekend, you had the opportunity to visit the UFC Performance Institute in your hometown of Las Vegas and train with mixed martial artist and former UFC Light Heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin. Were you able to take anything from that training session that you can apply to your role as the driver of the No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang?
“First off, thank you to UFC for having me out last week. That was such a cool experience to get to train with Forrest Griffin and talk to him about his career. Honestly, I think you see that racecar drivers and fighters have to have a similar mentality when competing. A fighter has to stay calm and focused in the ring to beat their opponent, and I feel like we have to do the same in the racecar to not get yourself into trouble. If you panic, you’ll only make things worse.”