Las Vegas, NV – What a great day it was for Stewart-Haas Racing driver Riley Herbst as he dominated most of the race here at Las Vegas Motor.
Speedway during the Alsco Uniforms 320 Xfinity playoff race. With much excitement and still in shock, Herbst thanks his entire Monster Energy team for believing in him and giving him a chance. Being in his hometown, he had about 60 family and friends trackside with him to see his victory.
“Oh my goodness, you don’t even know what this means, what this takes off my chest,” Herbst said. “I can’t believe it. I love you, Las Vegas.” Again, he is in disbelief where he says “Oh my goodness, I love this town and I love this team,” Herbst continuously kept thanking the people – family, team
owners and corporate sponsors – who had stuck by him as he made his way up the ranks.
A week prior to the Alsco Uniforms 302 race here in Las Vegas, Herbst announced that he would return to Stewart-Haas Racing for the 2024 season.
There were rumblings that he could potentially move up to Cup, but he doesn’t want to move up before winning in Xfinity. He has had 23 top-five finishes along with three runner-up finishes, but still didn’t have a win.
Herbst had a great run and won stage 2 and the race as he led 103 of 201 laps. By doing this he has beaten the Xfinity Series championship leader John Hunter Nemechek by nearly 15 seconds. What’s even more special for this
win is this is his first career win and the 100th for SHR across all NASCAR series.
After not making it into the playoffs, he had doubt set in mentally.
Herbst stated in his post race interview, “This year is such a failure to not make the playoffs and it’s so embarrassing to be in a car like this that doesn’t make the playoffs, and walk in the garage each week with your head down.”
Although he is not in the playoffs, he still drove like he was. After qualifiers on Friday, he started the race in 8th position in his Ford. Herbst admitted no one would have predicted him as the driver to win for the team.
Herbst was emotional after he grabbed the checkered flag at the end of the race. He then showed more emotion when he drove the No. 98 Monster Energy Ford car into victory lane after hugging his mom. He was smiling and then started to tear up.
During the post race interview, he was asked by
Crystal Carrington with Racing Refresh about the emotions he was feeling and any conversation with his mother in victory lane, He stated that “when you are in your darkest days, there’s nobody around you besides your mom. That’s her job, and she’s the best at it.” He also stated “it’s making me emotional again just thinking about everything” and you could hear his voice
He then goes on to say “There’s many times when you just don’t
know, and she’s the only one there to pick you up. I wouldn’t be here without
Then Herbst boasted and showed excitement that his team “just beat everybody in the playoffs, trying to go to Phoenix – they all brought their best stuff, and we whooped ‘em by about 10 seconds…I just flat out beat them!”
He was advised that it was actually 15 seconds and he gazed with even more excitement. SHR Ford finished first and Herbst teammate Cole Custer finished third.
The Chevrolets rounded up many spots in the top 10 with Chandler Smith being fourth and others included Sam Mayer, Justin Allgaier, Austin Hill, Brandon Jones, Daniel Hemric and Layne Riggs.
Stage 1: Custer swarmed past Chandler Smith with 10 of 45 laps remaining to take the Stage 1 win. Sammy Smith was third, Hemric fourth and Hill fifth.
Nemechek showing his great driving abilities started from the rear of the field and made his way to sixth.
Stage 2: belonged to Herbst as he ran down his teammate in the final 45 laps of this stage to earn the stage win. This was only his second career stage victory. With a couple of cautions in this stage, once being No. 26 Kaz Grala’s engine blew and spewed fluid over the track. This brought out the red flag for nearly nine minutes in order to clean the track.
This last stage is actually anyone’s race. This is when the drivers and pit crew have to play it smart. During the final round of green flag pits for new tires and fuel, Herbst was first off followed by Custer and Nemecheck.
The 2021Xfinity champion Daniel Hemric and Richard Childress Racing driver Sheldon Creed were among the first of the lead-lap cars to hit pit road.
Herbst took a 4-second lead over Custer around lap 125. One of the playoff drivers – Sammy Smith had to make a second pit stop for a loose wheel.
Unfortunately this was the second time he had a loose wheel during this race. But Herbst demanded his respect during this race. His lead time grew wider and wider with more than 11 seconds at lap 170 over Nemecheck.
With two races remaining in the semifinal round of the playoffs, the four drivers lowest in points without a win and in danger of elimination are Sheldon Creed, Sammy Smith, Mayer and Chandler Smith, who is 15 points
behind the cutline.
The series moves to the 1.5-mile oval at Homestead-Miami Speedway for next Saturday’s Contender Boats 300 (3 p.m. ET, USA Network, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)