TALLADEGA, Ala. – Riley Herbst might be an Xfinity Series regular, but he has been a driver to watch when it comes to superspeedway racing in the NASCAR Cup Series.
He finished 10th in the Daytona 500, his first career Cup Series race, and at the Coke Zero 400 before being taken out in the Big One at the end of stage two, Herbst mixed it up with the leaders in his first race with Front Row Motorsports.
Starting in sixth, which tied a career best for the Las Vegas native, Herbst would continually work his way through the field, avoiding trouble for the most part and eventually leading his first laps in the Cup Series, 10 of them.
With 13 laps to go, Herbst lined up second on the outside. He would find himself there throughout the final green-flag run.
On the final lap, the Stewart-Haas Racing affiliate, after pushing Ryan Blaney past Kevin Harvick, Herbst would lock on to the bumper of Harvick from the middle of the Alabama Gang Backstretch to the tri-oval.
It looked like Herbst would push Harvick all the way to the line to help him win and get himself an impressive top five in the process, but unfortunately for the 24-year-old, Corey Lajoie made a move to the middle, offsetting the white No. 36 Monster Beast Ford Mustang and careening Herbst into the pack, finally causing the Big One.
Following a disqualification of Harvick regarding a violation with his windshield fasters, Herbst finished a career-best ninth, sliding across the line.
“I felt like we probably should have finished fourth or third maybe [third or second after Harvick DQ].” Herbst said.
Herbst felt like he could win the race, but wasn’t confident that others would follow him if he jumped out of line
“I had a shot at it,” Herbst said at the care center. “Had a big run down the back. [I] decided not to take it down onto [turn] 4 because no body behind me was going to go with me. So, I decided to give to the [No.] 4 and that played us there.”
At the end of the day, Herbst’s goal was to learn.
“Learn, that was my goal.” Herbst said. “Just wanted to come here and learn and gain some respect and we made adjustments all day to get the car better. The team did a really good job when it came to that and we were in a position to win there at the end and didn’t have the opportunity because we got hooked and, but it was fun and I learned a lot.”
Herbst also sounded off on if he thought that this was an audition for next year.
“No, I don’t really do that,” Herbst said. “This was on my calendar since January before the [Daytona] 500. So, I’m just thankful for the opportunity to get to do this.”
Although his car ended torn up and destroyed, Herbst still walked away with his second top 10 in his fourth career starts and certainly impressed many in the garage with his performance.
About the author
Wyatt Watson has been an avid fan of NASCAR since 2007 at the age of 8. He joined Frontstretch in February 2023 after serving in the United States Navy for five years as an Electronic Technician Navigation working on submarines. Wyatt writes breaking NASCAR news and contributes to columns such as Friday Faceoff and 2-Headed Monster. Wyatt also contributes to Frontstretch's social media and serves as an at-track reporter.
Wyatt Watson can be found on Twitter @WyattGametime
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