Herbst gearing up for NASCAR Cup Series run at Talladega

Full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series competitor Riley Herbst will make his fourth NASCAR Cup start this Sunday afternoon when he climbs into the No. 36 Front Row Motorsports entry at Talladega.

“I’m excited to race this one and I’ve got the Beast from Monster Energy on-board on Sunday,” said Herbst, who made the first Cup start of his career earlier this year at the Daytona 500 where he placed 10th. “We were really fast at Daytona in the Cup car in the 500, as well as in the August race where we even led a few laps and had a shot for a stage win. It was cool to go up front in the Cup race and learn every lap. Hopefully, we can do the same thing here at Talladega.

“I’m going to take it lap-by-lap. I truly would like to learn as much as I can. I want to complete all 500 miles and just be there at the end. That’s kind of the game plan we’ve set out to execute. We just want to learn, learn, learn. That’s the biggest thing for me at this point in my career right now. I’ll be working with my crew chief Tony Manzer. This will be my second time working with him, and I’m excited for it.”


Having competed in the aforementioned Daytona 500, Herbst also made Cup starts at the Talladega spring race, as well as the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona. Despite placing 20th and 38th at Talladega and Daytona respectively, Herbst has been appreciative of the experience of running in the draft with the Cup regulars.

“Yeah, I just learn so much from the Cup guys,” he said. “It is just so much experience to take in. I’m racing against the best in the world, so it’s always good to learn from those guys and to try and make yourself better out there.”

Both superspeedways envisioned and constructed by the France family, Daytona and Talladega produce similar frantic pack racing, but are quite different in other ways. While 2.5-mile Daytona is known for its narrowness, bumps and slick racing surface, the 2.660-mile Talladega surface is much wider, smoother and easier on the driver.

“They’re both fun,” said Herbst. “They’re both wild and high thrills and very fast, so a lot of things happen out there and we’re just looking forward to it.”

Herbst has now participated in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for six years and has recorded 137 starts, 22 top five finishes and 66 top 10 finishes along the way. Currently 13th in the Xfinity point standings, Herbst hopes to close out the year with strong results.

“It has been a struggle, the last few weeks,” he said. “We had some turnover in the team, we had some mechanical issues and there were just too many mistakes made. Hopefully, we can clean all of that up here in the last five races of the year and end the Xfinity season on a strong note. There have just been a lot of execution errors. I think that once we clean that up, we’ll be just fine.”

Something Herbst and the entire Stewart-Haas Racing organization are keen to do before the curtain comes down on the season at Phoenix is land a so-far elusive Xfinity Series win.

“Thar’s our main goal to close the year out,” he said. “We want to end the year out with a win and to be aggressive and to end everything on a good and strong note.”

Be it the NASCAR Cup or Xfinity series, there has been a remarkable and recent amount of movement within the driver ranks. All of that withstanding, does Herbst know where he’ll be come Daytona in 2024?

“We don’t know yet for sure,” he said. “We’re trying to figure it out this final week with contracts and things like that. Everything is going in a real good direction. I’m excited for this weekend. It’s always fun to be in the Cup series. It’s great to be here at Talladega. It’s wild. You just pull into the track and you look straight up at the banking and it’s something surreal, and it’s real cool that I get to do this.”

Story originally appeared on Racer