By: Zach Catanzareti, Staff Writer
Without a late caution flag Saturday at Pocono Raceway, Riley Herbst believes he could have left the winner.
Stretching fuel in the closing laps of the Xfinity Series 90-lapper, Herbst’s Stewart-Haas Racing Ford was in position to potentially snatch the win, having only one lap of fuel to save to do so.
However, when Justin Allgaier made contact with lapped-car Joey Gase, the strategy play came to an end.
“I was very confident in that call because we came in a pitted for fuel before the green fell. There was no reason not to be confident,” Herbst said. “So, I knew we were one lap better than most people. I didn’t do [crew chief] Gavin [Restivo] any favors yesterday by qualifying 21st. He was trying to help us out as a team. Ultimately, it could have won us the race so it was a good call.”
Still, Herbst had a shot. Opting to restart sixth in overtime, he held on for fourth spot despite the chaos in front and behind.
Choosing the outside lane, however, could have cost him a better chance.
“Being in third is a difficult spot because you know the first two are going to choose the top,” he said. “So, you can either choose the first row — which I probably should have done, I just knew I had old tires and that it would be hard to get a good launch. I chose sixth, which is tough. But we came home fourth.”
In just their fifth race together, Herbst and Restivo earned their second top-five finish. Furthermore, winning pace has become commonplace for team No. 98.
“I feel like we’ve had this speed,” he said. “We had a top-five car at Loudon until I made a mistake, I feel we should have won Atlanta, we were the fastest car there. I messed up on the final restart in Nashville to win the race and we finished second. Every oval track since Davin came onboard I feel we’ve had top-five speed. We just haven’t capitalized on it.”