By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
After his first full season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Riley Herbst moves to Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) for the 2021 campaign,
As Chase Briscoe is promoted to the NASCAR Cup Series, Herbst will fill the void in the No. 98 Ford Mustang. The Las Vegas, NV native will bring long-time sponsor Monster Energy with him to SHR.
“Being on a team with such a strong run of success is the kind of opportunity every driver wants,” Herbst said. “Expectations are definitely high, but the highest expectations are the ones I’ve set for myself. I’m proud to be a part of Stewart-Haas Racing and I can’t wait to climb into that No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang next year.”
In Herbst’s first full Xfinity Series season, he earned four top-five and 17 top-10 finishes. The 21-year-old had two runner-up finishes at Auto Club Speedway and Kentucky Speedway. Neither track is on the 2021 Xfinity Series schedule.
Although Herbst has yet to reach victory lane in NASCAR competition, he has two ARCA Menards Series victories. He earned his first victory at Pocono Raceway in 2017. Herbst won from the pole in 2020 at Michigan International Speedway.
“We have been a part of Riley’s racing career since it started and we are genuinely excited about rejoining Stewart-Haas Racing,” said Mitch Covington, vice president of sports marketing, Monster Energy. “We saw Riley’s potential early on and it’s been proven by how quickly he has adapted to stock cars. He’s a next-generation talent with all the resources to succeed.”
In 2020, SHR earned nine victories and finished fourth in the championship standings with Briscoe. Over the past two seasons the organization earned 17 victories, 46 top-five, and 72 top-10 finishes between both Cole Custer and Briscoe. The duo accounted for over 2,000 laps led over the past two seasons.
In total, SHR has 21 victories with just one that was not earned by Briscoe or Custer. The organization won the owner’s championship in 2018 with Custer’s No. 00 Ford Mustang.
“Riley has really just scratched the surface of his potential,” said Greg Zipadelli, vice president of competition, SHR. “He reminds us a lot of Cole Custer and Chase Briscoe – two drivers who came to SHR’s Xfinity Series program with plenty of potential who then realized that potential and, between the two of them, won a lot of races and are now in the NASCAR Cup Series.
“Riley has the talent to emulate what Cole and Chase did in our equipment and we’re going into 2021 with the expectation that we’ll celebrate his first Xfinity Series win together.”
Herbst is the second youngest driver to compete for SHR full-time in the Xfinity Series. To date, his career has taken a similar path to Custer, having competed part-time in ARCA and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competition before going full-time in the Xfinity Series with Joe Gibbs Racing in 2020.
“We built the Xfinity Series program to develop talent and ultimately win with that talent,” explained team co-owner Tony Stewart. “It’s a proven path to the NASCAR Cup Series, and we feel that Riley has the ability to win and grow within our race team.”
The 2021 season opener at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, February 13 will see Herbst’s debut in the No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang.
Photo by Jim Fluharty / Harold Hinson Photography