Stewart-Haas Racing: Atlanta NXS Advance (Cole Custer | Riley Herbst)

Atlanta NASCAR Xfinity Series Advance
NASCAR Xfinity Series Overview

• Event: RAPTOR 250 (Round 5 of 33)
• Date: Saturday, March 18
• Location: Atlanta Motor Speedway
• Layout: 1.54-mile oval
• Time/TV/Radio: 5 p.m. EDT on FS1/PRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Cole Custer Notes of Interest

• Coming off of NASCAR’s three-week West Coast swing, Cole Custer is ready for a little change of scenery in the Southeast during Saturday’s RAPTOR 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. It’ll be the No. 00 Haas Automation driver’s first NASCAR Xfinity Series race on the recently reconfigured Atlanta oval after contesting both NASCAR Cup Series events there in 2022. The 1.54-mile oval was reconfigured prior to last season’s events, and racing there now resembles what takes place on the behemoth 2.5-mile Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and 2.66-mile Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway layouts. Atlanta’s banking in the corners was increased from 24 degrees to 28 degrees, the track width was reconfigured to vary from 55 feet to 40 feet, and the entire track was repaved with fresh asphalt. The goal of the project was to recreate the kind of pack-style racing at Atlanta that fans enjoy at Daytona and Talladega.

• The RAPTOR 250 will be Custer’s fourth Xfinity Series start at Atlanta. In his three previous outings from 2017 to 2019, his best result was a second-place finish from the pole in the February 2019 race. Custer also has six starts outside of the Xfinity Series at Atlanta – one in the NASCAR Truck Series and five in the Cup Series. His best finish of ninth came in his most recent visit to the track with the Cup Series last July.

• After starting the season with a strong ninth-place finish at Daytona, misfortune ruined what was shaping up to be another victory the following weekend on his home track, Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. After winning the opening two stages and leading 46 laps along the way, a cut right-front tire ended his victory bid and relegated Custer to a 27th-place finish. He closed the West Coast swing with a pair of 12th-place finishes at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Phoenix Raceway. Custer showed great speed at Phoenix, laying down the fastest laps in practice and earning his first pole of the season in the No. 00 Ford Mustang and the 10th of his Xfinity Series career. He arrives at Atlanta eighth in the driver standings.

Riley Herbst Notes of Interest

• Riley Herbst is on a roll in the No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang. In his first four races of 2023, Herbst is continuing the momentum he closed the season with in 2022. Dating back to an eighth-place finish on Oct. 22, 2022, at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the Monster Energy driver has scored seven straight top-10 finishes. He is one of only three Xfinity Series drivers to finish in the top-10 in every race this season – Austin Hill and John Hunter Nemechek are the others. After running in the top-three for a majority of the season opener at Daytona, the Monster Energy driver avoided mayhem in the final laps to finish sixth. When the series rolled into Fontana three weekends ago, he ran in the top-10 for most of the day before finishing seventh. In his hometown of Las Vegas two weekends ago, he was clocking some of the fastest laps of the race on his way to a eighth-place finish. Last weekend at Phoenix, he had a fast Ford Mustang for the entire race, earning valuable stage points on his way to a solid fourth-place finish, his first top-five of the 2023 season. He arrives at Atlanta tied for fourth in the Xfinity Series standings with Chandler Smith.

• Saturday’s RAPTOR 250 will mark Herbst’s sixth career Xfinity Series start at Atlanta and his third on the new layout. When Xfinity Series drivers competed on the new layout for the first time last March, it suited Herbst well as he finished fourth – his best result in four Atlanta starts. He followed that up with a ninth-place result when the series returned to the track last July. Herbst’s sixth-place finish in the March 2021 race was the best of his three Xfinity Series outings on the old Atlanta surface.

• In addition to his top-10 streak, Herbst has yet to finish outside the top-10 in any form of motorsports since last season. In November, Herbst returned to his off road roots to race in the Baja 1000, where he drove the final leg of the journey and earned a third-place finish in a Terrible Herbst Motorsports entry. Then, in February, he made his NASCAR Cup Series debut in the 65th running of the Daytona 500 in the No. 15 Ford Mustang for Rick Ware Racing, and came away with a 10th-place finish. He became just the fourth driver in NASCAR history to earn a top-10 in all three of his first starts in the Cup Series, Xfinity Series, and Truck Series.

Cole Custer, Driver of the No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang

You earned your best Atlanta Xfinity Series finish of second in your most recent outing there in 2019, which came on the old surface. What are your thoughts as you head back there in the new Xfinity Series car on the new configuration, having experience on it during your two Cup Series starts there last year?

“I know I’ll have to adjust to it pretty fast, but this is an interesting style of racing for me. It’s a mix between a mile-and-a-half and a superspeedway. You just kind of have to hope that everything goes right for you. There’s honestly a little bit of luck involved, too. Hopefully, we can find that luck, be fast, and keep ourselves out of trouble until the end.”

After the speed you showed last weekend at Phoenix, what are the expectations for the team for this weekend’s race at Atlanta?

“Riley (Herbst) had some really strong races at Atlanta last year, so I think it’s just a matter of learning from what he did and continuing to build that notebook. We’re always going to the racetrack looking to win. In the end, it’s all about putting it all together correctly – a perfect day with a fast car, speed, and no mistakes. That’s what we’re hoping for at Atlanta.”

Riley Herbst, Driver of the No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang

You’re coming off your best finish of 2023 so far with a fourth-place result at Phoenix. On top of that, you have not finished outside the top-10 in any form of motorsports that you’ve participated in since October 2022. What’s helped you build this consistency?

“I think just the experience I’ve gained over the past few year has helped me as a driver. It’s crazy to see that top-10 statistic, but you also have to realize that, as a driver, you take it race by race. I’m focused on the next race, running well, and continuing to grow. This No. 98 team has worked so hard over the past few years, and I’m thankful for each and every one of them. I’m happy that we’re being consistent and finishing races, but as a racer, you want to win. I think that’s the next step and hopefully we’ll get it done soon.”

You finished fourth and ninth in last year’s two races, respectively, on the reconfigured Atlanta track. Are you a fan of the pack-style of racing that’s new to the 1.54-mile Atlanta oval?

“I didn’t know what to expect when we went there for the first race last year. This was a whole new concept, and I don’t think anyone knew what would happen. We struggled during that first race, too, going two laps down at one point. Ultimately, we got our laps back and fought until the end. It worked out in our favor with a top-five. We were solid again in the summer, but I think that while this track is still new, I’ve enjoyed getting to race there. I’m excited to see what this No. 98 Monster Energy team can do this weekend.”

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


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

My Betting Site

Online Casino

Free Spins No Deposit UK

10 deposit casinos

Latest articles