Herbst to make 100th Xfinity career start at Darlington

Competing in his third full-time season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Riley Herbst is within reach of a milestone start. By competing in this weekend’s Xfinity event at Darlington Raceway, the driver of the No. 98 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang will reach 100 career starts in the Xfinity circuit.

A native of Las Vegas, Nevada, Herbst made his Xfinity Series debut at Iowa Speedway in June 2018. By then, he was a full-time ARCA Series competitor for Joe Gibbs Racing and a part-time NASCAR Truck Series competitor for Kyle Busch Motorsports. He had also earned a single ARCA career victory at Pocono Raceway in 2017. Driving the No. 18 JGR Toyota Camry, Herbst started ninth and finished an impressive sixth-place in his Xfinity debut. 

The following season, Herbst returned for nine Xfinity races, all in JGR’s No. 18 Toyota Supra. Starting with a ninth-place result at Richmond Raceway in April, Herbst earned a total of three top-10 results and six top-15 results.

In 2020, Herbst earned a full-time ride in the No. 18 JGR Toyota Supra in the Xfinity circuit, where he entered as a Rookie-of-the-Year contender. His rookie season started off on a low note when he finished 32nd at Daytona International Speedway in February following a multi-car accident a lap shy of the halfway mark. Herbst, though, rebounded the following three weekends by finishing ninth at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a career-best second place at Auto Club Speedway following a late battle with teammate Harrison Burton and 10th at Phoenix Raceway in March. Eleven races later, Herbst notched another runner-up result behind Austin Cindric in the first of a Kentucky Speedway doubleheader feature in July. Overall, Herbst earned four top-five results and 16 top-10 results throughout the 26-race regular-season stretch, which were enough for him to qualify for the 2020 Xfinity Playoffs based on points. His pursuit for the championship, however, came to an end following results of 12th, 35th and 12th in the first round of the Playoffs. Earning just one top-10 result in the final four races of the schedule, Herbst concluded his first full-time Xfinity season in 12th place in the standings with a total of four top-five results and 17 top-10 results.

The following season, Herbst joined Stewart-Haas Racing to pilot the No. 98 Ford Mustang, an entry that had achieved nine victories the previous Xfinity season with Chase Briscoe. Despite achieving his first career pole at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May, the 2021 regular season stretch for the Las Vegas native was a difficult stretch as his best on-track result was third at Bristol Motor Speedway in September. To go along with a total of four top-five results and 11 top-10 results, Herbst managed to grab a spot in the 2021 Xfinity Playoffs. Following three consecutive DNFs and finishes outside the top 25 during the Round of 12, his titles hopes came to an early end as he was one of four competitors to be eliminated from the Playoffs. He managed to record two top-10 results during the final four scheduled races, including a fourth-place effort in the season finale at Phoenix Raceway in November, before finishing in 11th place in the final standings in a season where he earned five top-five results and 13 top-10 results.

Remaining at Stewart-Haas Racing for a second consecutive season, Herbst commenced the season with a fourth-place result at Daytona followed by a ninth-place run at Auto Club Speedway in February. Since then, he earned his second Xfinity career pole at Nashville Superspeedway in June along with a total of five top-five results and 15 top-10 results. He is currently ranked in eighth place in the regular-season standings and is 107 points above the top-12 cutline to qualify for the 2022 Xfinity Playoffs that will commence in September.

Through 99 previous Xfinity starts, Herbst has achieved two poles, 14 top-five results, 49 top-10 results, 84 laps led and an average-finishing result of 15.5 while he continues to pursue his first victory across NASCAR’s top three national touring series.

Herbst is scheduled to make his 100th Xfinity Series career start at Darlington Raceway on Saturday, September 3, with the event’s coverage to occur at 3 p.m. ET on USA Network.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

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