Interview: Riley Herbst is on a mission

Riley Herbst is gearing as much as return to Stewart-Haas Racing’s No. 98 Monster Vitality Ford Mustang for his third season within the NASCAR Xfinity Collection this 12 months.

A member of Stewart-Haas Racing since 2021, Herbst has had a constant marketing campaign in 2022 with three prime threes, eight prime fives, and 20 prime 10s — sufficient for a spot in qualifying and in the end tenth in factors. Gaining expertise and confidence with each race he runs, Herbst has been proud of 2022 and sees it as a robust place to begin in 2023.

“We had a robust 2022 season,” says Herbst. “We had a bunch of prime fives and a bunch of prime ten. This 12 months I can get to know my staff mate Cole Custer. I actually assume this can assist our program tremendously, and hopefully we will work collectively and find yourself in victory lane.

“I cherished the 2022 season, however I did not. Clearly we need to win. We need to win every part. Hopefully we will take that subsequent step this 12 months and get on the highway to victory and begin gathering trophies.

“We’re actually targeted on consistency as we go into 2023. Consistency is vital in all the races, however particularly in NASCAR. Hopefully we will proceed to construct that consistency, and that consistency can take us even larger as that prime three can flip into Wins and extra poles, extra laps led, extra stage factors and all that stuff. We’re simply attempting to take that subsequent step this 12 months and be higher than we had been final 12 months.”

Two folks that Herbst believes have been of nice significance to him all through his tenure on the Xfinity collection are Kevin Harvick and SHR crew chief Richard Boswell.

“Clearly, with Kevin Harvick, 2023 can be his final 12 months,” says Herbst. “He is popping out huge and it is nice to look at. He is my childhood hero, so it is nice to be within the trade whereas he is in his senior 12 months. I additionally signed with Kevin Harvick Integrated which he runs. He helped me get off the monitor in a giant approach. He factors me in the suitable path.” And he offers me recommendation on and off the racetrack, which is so wonderful.

“Richard Boswell is a superb man. He is a extremely good crew chief. He is a racer and loves going out on the racetrack. And the staff itself is superb. It is the beginning of my third 12 months with them. It is nice. Stewart-Haas is a store stuffed with winners and racers, and so they do every part they’ll to help us on the staff.” 98 and so they positively really feel at residence.”

Workforce boss Tony Stewart can also be preserving a detailed eye on Herbst.

“Tony involves fairly a number of races,” says Herbst. “Man, he is the racer of the racers. When he is not on the monitor with us, he is on the monitor along with his spouse, or at another race competing in a mud automobile. He is even doing a little drag racing now. He is the very definition of a racer.”

The 2023 Xfinity Collection kicks off at Daytona on February 18th. It is historical past that Herbst says cannot come quickly sufficient.

“I am excited to go after it,” he says. “I do know we may be there ultimately. I imagine with something in life and in racing, confidence is vital. Over the previous six to eight months I’ve felt more and more assured in my talents. I’m additionally very assured in my preparation and within the work I do “I actually belief my crew chief and my staff. All of it means good issues, and hopefully it means victory lane quickly.”

“Daytona is one among our greatest races of the 12 months, nevertheless it’s a wild race to say the least. We’ll be working intently with Cole in ’00 and hopefully we will work collectively and draft and be on prime in terms of that. Cole and I are good buddies. I’ve recognized him for a short time and he has We have already began planning for Daytona and the way greatest to assault that monitor, learn how to work collectively and learn how to assist the staff on the whole.”

After the Daytona race opener, the Xfinity Collection will head to Auto Membership Speedway adopted by Phoenix Raceway on March twenty fifth.

“It is crucial,” Herbst says. “You need to be constant for the primary 10 races after which you may race after that as a result of the sector is so shut collectively. All of those race tracks are a lot enjoyable and I really feel like we will be aggressive on each monitor.”

Forward of all that comes NASCAR Xfinity Collection testing, which is scheduled for January thirtieth in Charlotte.

“This might be an excellent day to observe and get some coaching and get your ft again in motorsport and get your head proper,” he says. “Will probably be good to instruct the brand new staff members right here with the staff, and I can make myself snug within the race automobile once more. It’s good that they gave us this check.”

Whereas the last word purpose is to journey the trophy, Herbst’s instant precedence is to make some Xfinity-level wins.

“I’d like to race within the Cup Collection and I’d like to be a Cup Collection winner, however now I need to win races within the Xfinity Collection and be the Champion after which we will speak concerning the Cup Collection at a later time,” he says.

“We’re sticking to what we have to do to go and attempt to win these races and struggle for the championship. We’re placing the puzzle collectively piece by piece, and it goes collectively very well. Our spirits at Stewart-Haas Racing are actually good. We’re very keen to begin the season and we’ll attempt to win some “The races and competing for the championships. I actually need him to win the primary race. It has to occur. Hopefully it is in our first race at Daytona. If not, we’ll maintain working laborious and we’ll pull it off.”

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