INTERVIEW: Riley Herbst

INTERVIEW: Riley Herbst


INTERVIEW: Riley Herbst


It’s been a busy Friday at Daytona International Speedway for Riley Herbst.

Returning to Stewart Haas Racing for his third consecutive racing season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2023, the 23 year-old will also compete in this Sunday’s Daytona 500. Herbst opened his Daytona week in the 60-lap, 150-mile Bluegreen Vacations Duel 2, where a wreck relegated him to 21st. Still, he saw some upsides.

“Our Duel was better than we thought,” said, Herbst. “We drove up into the top 10, and obviously we waited to see what would come next. I was in my Daytona 500 car, so I wanted to fall back and just ride and complete the race, and then disaster struck with a wreck in front of us and we didn’t have anywhere to go. That’s a big bummer for our guys, just getting the car fixed for practice today and for the 500 on Sunday. The guys are working on the car right now. We have no backup car. We’ll just fix it with parts and pieces, which is good.”

While his race was over after 40 laps, the track time was valuable.

“It’s kind of like learning to swim when you’re a kid and your parents throw you out into the deep end of the pool,” he said. “It was interesting, to say the least. I’m happy it’s over now and so now I know what these cars drive like.

“[The Next Gen] definitely drives a lot different than the Xfinity Series car. The car takes some getting used to, for sure, but we’re adjusting and that’s what we are supposed to do, I guess. The biggest thing is just to learn. Learn, learn, learn and learn. I want to be a better race car driver than I was before I hopped in this car. That’s kind of where our mindset is. We just want to get laps and to get adjusted to the Cup Series.”

But before Herbst tackles his first NASCAR Cup start on Sunday in Daytona Beach, he must first compete in the 2023 NASCAR Xfinity Series season-opener.

“We’re ready to go win this race tomorrow night and to start the season off strong,” he said. “Time will tell how good our car is, but it should be fast and we should be up front. I’m excited about the Xfinity race. I’ve got a teammate obviously with Cole Custer, and it’s really exciting and we’re confident that we know we’re going to have a lot of speed and we’re ready to go race. We’ll work with our teammates and just kind of see how the car feels this afternoon and then we’ll go from there. Today is just touch and go and I’m talking with crew chiefs and stuff like that and we’ll go from there.

“I feel real good with everything. I have to say that I’m eager to do both races here at Daytona this weekend. I know we can be there at the end. I’m also extremely confident in my preparation and in the work I’m doing. I’m really confident in my crew chief and my team and hopefully they mean victory lane shortly. This is the biggest race that there is and it is every kid’s dream to race in the Daytona 500, so I’m excited to get after it and to live out a lifelong dream.”