Riley Herbst will contest the 66th Daytona 500 on Feb. 18 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway for Rick Ware Racing (RWR) with support from longtime partner Monster Energy. Herbst will pilot the No. 15 Monster Energy Ford Mustang in the Great American Race, the first in a series of select NASCAR Cup Series races he will run with RWR in 2024.
Herbst made his Cup Series debut with RWR in last year’s Daytona 500, finishing an impressive 10th. The 2024 Daytona 500 will mark Herbst’s fifth career Cup Series start, with his most recent Cup Series drive coming last October at Daytona’s sister track – Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway – where Herbst finished ninth.
“Riley continues to impress as a driver,” said team owner Rick Ware. “He showcased what we could do together by securing a top-10 in his first Cup Series start in last year’s Daytona 500, so we look forward to using that as our benchmark when we return to do it again in a few weeks.
“Additionally, to partner with a global brand like Monster Energy is something I take very seriously for RWR as a company. Monster’s commitment to motorsports is something I respect and value, and I’m proud to have the opportunity to work together with Riley and the Monster brand throughout 2024.”
Herbst competes fulltime in the NASCAR Xfinity Series – the stepping-stone division to the elite Cup Series. The 24-year-old from Las Vegas is coming off a strong 2023 season where he scored a breakthrough victory on Oct. 14 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“I’m excited to be back at the Daytona 500 with Monster Energy and Rick Ware Racing,” Herbst said. “Competing in last year’s race was a dream come true. We ran a smart race and came out of it with a top-10. I definitely learned a lot.
“Track time and experience are key, especially at a place like Daytona. Learning the nuances of the draft, when to ride and when to make a move, only happen when you’re in the seat. I’m really looking forward to applying everything I learned last year to this year’s race.”
Herbst is a third-generation racer who is taking his family name from the deserts of the southwest to the asphalt tracks of NASCAR. Herbst began racing go-karts at age 5, competing in events up and down the West Coast. He soon followed in his family’s footsteps, transitioning to off-road racing in 2006 where his grandfather, Jerry, and uncles Tim and Ed, and father Troy, are all Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame inductees for being championship-winning off-road racers. But by age 10, Herbst sought a return to pavement. Legend Cars, Speed Trucks and Super Late Models set the stage for Herbst’s NASCAR ascension, where he has advanced from the K&N Pro Series to the ARCA Menards Series to the Truck Series to the Xfinity Series, a rise now sprinkled with select Cup Series races.
“I’ve grown a lot as a racecar driver, especially this past year,” Herbst said. “I put in the work and try to maximize every opportunity, and I feel like last year that hard work and determination paid off. We were really strong at the end of the year. We never finished lower than fourth in our last five Xfinity Series races. I didn’t want the season to end. I’ve kind of been chomping at the bit to get this year started, so to be able to get back to Daytona and run the 500 is something I’m definitely looking forward to.”
Herbst’s teammate will be fellow 24-year-old Justin Haley, the fulltime driver of RWR’s No. 51 Ford Mustang and a Cup Series winner at Daytona (2019 Coke Zero Sugar 400).
“I know I’ll have that yellow rookie stripe on my back bumper and usually that means other drivers think twice about drafting with you. So, to have a teammate in Justin Haley – a guy who’s won at Daytona before – is a great asset,” Herbst said. “I’m going to look out for him and he’s going to look out for me and, together with that Roush Yates horsepower in our Ford Mustangs, I think we can be a strong combination.”
Pole qualifying for the Daytona 500 begins at 8:15 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Feb. 14 with live coverage on FS1. Once the front row for the Daytona 500 is set, the Bluegreen Vacations Duel – twin 150-mile heat races – takes place at 7 p.m. EST on Thursday, Feb. 15 on FS1 to set the rest of the Daytona 500 field. Daytona Speedweek then culminates with the 66th running of the Daytona 500 at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 18, with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with its pre-race show at 1 p.m. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will also carry live coverage of each event.