Riley Herbst Kansas NXS Race Report

Herbst Finishes 13th at Kansas
Monster Energy Ford Driver Rebounds for 17th Top-15 of Season

Date: Oct. 23, 2021
Event: Kansas Lottery 300 (Round 31 of 33)
Series: NASCAR Xfinity Series
Location: Kansas Speedway in Kansas City (1.5-mile oval)
Format: 200 laps, broken into three stages (45 laps/45 laps/110 laps)
Start/Finish: 13th / 13th (Running, completed 200 of 200 laps)
Point Standing: 11th (2,091 points)

Race Winner: Ty Gibbs of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: AJ Allmendinger of Kaulig Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Austin Cindric of Team Penske (Ford)

Overview:
Riley Herbst and the No. 98 Monster Energy team rebounded from an unscheduled pit stop for a flat tire during the final stage and finished 13th. It was their 17th top-15 of the season. The third-generation racer from Las Vegas rolled off 13th for the 200-lap race. He climbed as high as 10th before reporting that he was struggling to turn the right front because of a tight-handling racecar. After staying out during the lap-20 competition caution, Herbst was unable to overcome the balance issues of his No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang and fell back to 15th, where he finished the first stage. Crew chief Richard Boswell called his driver down pit road during the break for four tires, fuel and a double adjustment. Herbst restarted 11th on lap 52. As the second stage went caution-free, the Monster Energy driver continued to struggle with a tight Ford Mustang over the long run. He finished 11th in the stage, and the No. 98 team pitted for four tires, fuel and an adjustment during the break. When the green flag waved for the final stage on lap 96, Herbst restarted ninth and avoided an incident during the opening laps of the final stage and took over the sixth position. He continued to run in the top-10 until a restart on lap 108, when his car fired off too tight and he fell back in the field. On lap 122, Herbst made contact with the wall while running 11th and was forced to pit for four tires and fuel due to a right-rear flat. He rejoined the field 30th, one lap down, but kept the fight alive by racing up to 22nd in just nine laps. The team caught a caution on lap 136 and took the wave-around to regain the lost lap. While he initially struggled on old tires, Herbst caught another break with a caution on lap 155 and was able to pit for his final set of tires and fuel, hoping the race would go green to help with the team’s strategy. The Monster Energy driver raced his way all the way up to 11th before another caution on lap 178 ruined the strategy. Herbst restarted fifth with 16 laps to go in the race. Unable to hold off competitors with fresh tires, he fell back to 14th on the restart, then picked up one position before the checkered flag.

Riley Herbst, driver of the No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“Not the day we were hoping for, but I’m proud of the No. 98 Monster Energy team for never giving up. We recovered from that right-rear flat in the final stage and looked like we could finish in the top-10, but the cautions didn’t play out in our favor at the end. We’ll head to Martinsville.”

Notes:
● Ty Gibbs won the Kansas Lottery 300 to score his fourth victory in 18 Xfinity Series career starts. His margin over second-place Austin Cindric was .759 of a second.
● There were 10 caution periods for a total of 46 laps.
● Twenty-two of the 40 drivers in the Kansas Lottery 300 finished on the lead lap.
● Cindric and AJ Allmendinger emerged tied atop the championship standings with third-place Justin Allgaier 38 points back.

Next Up:
The next event on the Xfinity Series schedule is the Dead On Tools 250 on Saturday, Oct. 30, at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. The race starts at 6 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

-SHR-

SHR Post-Race Recap: Texas

STEWART-HAAS RACING
Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500

Date: Oct. 17, 2021
Event: Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 (Round 33 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (1.5-mile oval)
Format: 334 laps, broken into three stages (105 laps/105 laps/124 laps)

Race Winner: Kyle Larson of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Larson of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)

SHR Race Finish:
● Kevin Harvick (Started 24th, Finished 5th / Running, completed 334 of 334 laps)
● Chase Briscoe (Started 26th, Finished 15th / Running, completed 334 of 334 laps)
● Aric Almirola (Started 22nd, Finished 18th / Running, completed 331 of 334 laps)
● Cole Custer (Started 20th, Finished 19th / Running, completed 330 of 334 laps)

SHR Points:
● Kevin Harvick (9th with 2,248 points)
● Aric Almirola (14th with 2,136 points)
● Chase Briscoe (23rd with 620 points)
● Cole Custer (28th with 514 points)

Playoff Standings (Two races to go in Round of 8):
1. Kyle Larson (4,123 points) 1 win
2. Ryan Blaney (4,072 points) +17
3. Denny Hamlin (4,064 points) +9
4. Kyle Busch (4,063 points) +8
5. Chase Elliott (4,055 points) -8
6. Brad Keselowski (4,048 points) -15
7. Martin Truex Jr. (4,041 points) -22
8. Joey Logano (4,020 points) -43

SHR Notes:
● Harvick earned his ninth top-five and 22nd top-10 of the season. This was his 13th top-five and 24th top-10 in 37 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Texas.
● Since joining SHR in 2014, Harvick has only two finishes outside the top-10 at Texas. During this time, he has scored 10 top-fives – three of which were wins while three others were second-place finishes.
● Harvick finished fourth in Stage 2 to earn seven bonus points.
● Briscoe earned his 11th top-15 of the season and it came in his first career NASCAR Cup Series start at Texas.
● Briscoe was the highest finishing NASCAR Cup Series rookie for the 28th time this season.
● Briscoe finished sixth in Stage 1 to earn five bonus points and eighth in Stage 2 to earn three more bonus points.

Race Notes:
● Kyle Larson won the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 to score his 14th career NASCAR Cup Series victory, his series-leading eighth of the season and his first at Texas. His margin over second-place William Byron was .459 of a second.
● There were 11 caution periods for a total of 55 laps.
● Only 15 of the 39 drivers in the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 finished on the lead lap.

Texas Quotes

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“We were really loose to start the race and the team made some good adjustments on the car. When they all crashed on the backstretch we were able to start around 16th and just work our way up from there. Overall, it was a good day. The team worked hard to put everything together and get us there at the end.”

Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield/Walk-On’s Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“We just couldn’t recover from the damage we got early in the race. Our No. 10 Smithfield/Walk-On’s Ford was just too tight, and I couldn’t get it to turn with the damage. Man, that was a long day. The guys on pit road worked hard to keep us going. We’ve run so well at Texas in the past, so it’s a bummer we didn’t get to truly see what speed we brought. But it is what it is, and we’ll move on to Kansas.”

Cole Custer, driver of the No. 41 Feeding America®/Wow Wow Classic Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“Not the day we wanted at Texas. That wreck in the first stage really hurt a strong run for the No. 41 Feeding America®/Wow Wow Classic Waffles Ford Mustang. I’m proud of our team for never giving up, though. They fixed up our car, and then we used those cautions at the end to get back into the top-20. We’ll move onto Kansas.”

Chase Briscoe, driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Cummins Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“The finish didn’t show it, but the guys did a great job making our Rush Truck Centers/Cummins Ford better all day long. I really appreciate the effort, especially after last week. It got a little crazy at the end, there, which makes you wonder what might have been if we could’ve avoided at least some of that. But it is what it is.”

Next Up:
The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Hollywood Casino 400 on Sunday, Oct. 24 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. It is the eighth race of the 10-race playoffs and the second race in the Round of 8. It starts at 3 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

-SHR-

Riley Herbst Texas NXS Race Report

Herbst Finishes 12th at Texas
Monster Energy Ford Driver Earns 16th Top-15 of Season

Date: Oct. 16, 2021
Event: Andy’s Frozen Custard 335 (Round 30 of 33)
Series: NASCAR Xfinity Series
Location: Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (1.5-mile oval)
Format: 200 laps, broken into three stages (45 laps/45 laps/110 laps)
Start/Finish: 20th / 12th (Running, completed 200 of 200 laps)
Point Standing: 11th (2,067 points)

Race Winner: John Hunter Nemechek of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Austin Cindric of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: John Hunter Nemechek of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Overview:
After a 200-lap battle in the Lone Star State, Riley Herbst and the No. 98 Monster Energy team brought home their 16th top-15 finish of the 2021 season. The Las Vegas native finished 12th in Saturday’s Andy’s Frozen Custard 335 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. After starting 20th, Herbst wasted no time in his drive forward, moving up to 16th by lap eight. When the competition caution came out on lap 20, the 22-year-old driver reported that his No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang fired off fine but became tight. Crew chief Richard Boswell kept Herbst out on the track to stick to the team’s pit strategy. After the lap-26 restart, Herbst ran as high as 13th for the remainder of the stage. A late-stage caution on lap 40 presented an opportunity for the No. 98 team. Herbst pitted for four tires, fuel, and a double adjustment to combat his tight-handling racecar. A majority of the leaders stayed out at that time, so while Herbst finished the stage in 20th, he was able to restart the second stage in sixth. When the race went back green on lap 52, the Las Vegas native was consistent. He ran as high as fifth and reported that his Ford Mustang was the best it had been all day. Herbst finished sixth to earn five bonus points and restarted the final stage seventh on lap 98 after a scheduled pit stop. He was battling for eighth when an accident brought out the caution flag on lap 100. The team kept its driver on the track to restart eighth. Herbst struggled in the dirty air on the restart and fell back to 14th. When the caution came out on lap 142, Herbst was running 13th. He reported that the car was good, but he continued to struggle with passing, similar to many other competitors. The No. 98 Monster Energy team brought its driver down pit road for four fresh tires and fuel. Herbst continued to run in the top-12 after the restart. He was 11th when another caution flag flew on lap 172. Boswell made the call to bring Herbst down pit road for the final stop of the race to put on four tires and fill up on fuel. In the final 21 laps, Herbst battled in the top-12, where he ultimately finished.

Riley Herbst, driver of the No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“Man, Texas is a tough track. We struggled with a tight Monster Energy Ford Mustang initially. During the second stage, we really showed some speed while running in the top-10. Unfortunately, it was hard to pass all day, so when we got shuffled back to 12th on the final restart, it was hard to get back up to the front. We’ll take what we learned and head to Kansas.”

Notes:
● Herbst finished sixth in Stage 2 to earn five bonus points.
● Herbst’s 12th-place result equaled his previous best finish at Texas – 12th, earned in June.
● John Hunter Nemechek won the Andy’s Frozen Custard 335 to score his second career Xfinity Series victory, his first of the season and his first at Texas. His margin over second-place Daniel Hemric was 1.316 seconds.
● There were ten caution periods for a total of 54 laps.
● Nineteen of the 40 drivers in the Andy’s Frozen Custard 335 finished on the lead lap.
● A.J. Allmendinger remains the championship leader after Texas with an four-point advantage over second-place Cindric.

Next Up:
The next event on the Xfinity Series schedule is the Kansas Lottery 300 on Saturday, Oct. 23 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. The race starts at 3 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBC and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

-SHR-

In the Know – Talladega

“In the Know”
Talladega Superspeedway

Anything can happen at Talladega Superspeedway. At 2.66 miles, this track is the largest paved oval the series competes on with 33 degrees of banking in the turns. Since its opening year, Talladega has hosted many races and has been repaved four times.

“Since its repave in 2010, Talladega’s track surface has aged a bit and will wear tires somewhat this weekend,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing. “Having said that, teams will still have the opportunity to mix in two-tire and no-tire stops in their pit strategy throughout the race. Being able to do that will help teams gain track position and potentially help them line up with teammates so they can work together in the draft.”

Drivers will try to avoid “The Big One” while battling it out with two races left in the Round of 12 – for both the Xfinity Series and the Cup Series.

The Details

NASCAR Cup Series Overview
Event: YellaWood 500 (Round 30 of 36)
Time/Date: 2 p.m. EDT on Sunday, Oct. 3
Location: Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway
Layout: 2.66-mile oval
Laps/Miles: 188 laps/500.8 miles
Stage Lengths: Stage 1: 60 laps / Stage 2: 60 laps / Final Stage: 68 laps
TV/Radio: NBC / MRN / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

NASCAR Xfinity Series Overview
Event: Sparks 300 at Talladega (Round 28 of 33)
Date: Saturday, Oct. 2
Location: Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway
Layout: 2.66-mile oval
Time/TV/Radio: 4:30 p.m. EDT on NBCSN/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

What Our Drivers are Saying:

Kevin Harvick, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Light #Hunt4Busch Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

What are your expectations for Talladega?
“For me, it’s been a destruction derby over the last couple of years. We’ve run really well at Talladega, but that’s just kind of the phases you go through when you go to Talladega. I’m doing worse than 50-50 on whether you crash or finish the last few years, but it’s one of those places where you want to race up front and race hard all day because you have to try to win stages. I believe you have better odds at the front of the pack when it comes to staying out of a wreck if you can keep that track position all day. You’re going to race in a pack – three-wide at times – and you’re going to get pushed and have to push at times. You just never know what’s going to happen because Talladega is its own animal. It’s hard to finish a race there. As we’ve seen over the past however many years, you try to put yourself in the right position and hope you have a little bit of luck on your side that particular day. I know our Busch Light Ford Mustang will be fast enough to contend for the win, but you just have to get to the finish.”

Aric Almirola, Driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

What would it mean to you to pull off another win this year, especially at a track that you’ve seen so much success at in the past?
“It would really just solidify this season for us. We came into the year expecting to compete for multiple wins. Our year as a whole has not been what we expected, but to put another win under our belt for 2021 would give us such a sense of accomplishment. It would mean the world to put Smithfield in victory lane again there, too. We have a few other races left this season that we can be competitive at, but Talladega is always circled on my list.”

Chase Briscoe, Driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil Delvac 1 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

Your first race at Talladega in April was really the first top-15 for the No. 14 team. How are you feeling about heading back there with a little more experience under your belt?
“I’m excited, and I don’t think that’s something you hear a lot when people talk about superspeedways. I love this type of racing and, now that I am more comfortable in the car and with the team and how they work, I think we’ve got a good shot to go finish up front. We’ve made progress at every other track this year and I think we can do the same. But there’s always that unknown factor at these superspeedway races. Anything can happen and it will. You’ve got guys who are trying to make the next round of the playoffs before we get to the Roval and others that are just going for a win knowing these are the kinds of races where you can go from midpack to the front if you can find the right line and drafting group.”

Cole Custer, Driver of the No. 41 Autodesk Fusion 360/HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing

You drove to a top-10 finish in your last visit to Talladega in April and you finished just one spot out of the top-10 in the Daytona 500 at Talladega’s sister track in February. Do you feel you can carry that momentum into this weekend?
“Those were solid races that we needed at the time, and I think if a thing or two would’ve gone our way at the end of those races, we would’ve ended up with even better finishes. The superspeedways have been one of our strong suits at SHR this year and I’m confident our HaasTooling.com Ford guys are bringing us a fast Mustang for this race. These are races where you can’t control a whole lot and you have to hope for the best, especially during the playoffs when guys are going all out for stage points and then at the end of the race. You have to race your race the best you can to put yourself in a good position. It can be a pretty stressful race, but I guess all of the races can be stressful if you let them.”

Riley Herbst, Driver of the No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang (Xfinity Series)

You scored a fourth-place finish at Talladega back in April. What are you expecting in your return trip this race weekend?
“Talladega is unpredictable. Anything can happen and you have to be in the right place at the right time to come out on top. It really helps when you have teammates, and luckily I have my Ford teammates and we’ll work together on Saturday to try and get a win for the manufacturer. Not only did we have a good result in the spring, we also have grown our superspeedway program to where we led laps at both Daytona races this year. Now to just seal the deal and win.”

SHR Stats

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Light #Hunt4Busch Ford Mustang, finished fourth in his last outing at Talladega in April. Harvick led three times for 12 laps to increase his laps-led total at the 2.66-mile oval to 276. It was his eighth top-five and 17th top-10 in 41 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Talladega. Harvick’s eight top-fives at Talladega tie him with Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano for the second-most among active NASCAR Cup Series drivers. Harvick’s 17 top-10s at Talladega are the second-most among active NASCAR Cup Series drivers. Only Busch has more (21 top-10s). Among those stats is a lone win at Talladega. Harvick came out the victor in a dogfight of a NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega on April 25, 2010. There were an incredible 88 lead changes in the 200-lap race around the 2.66-mile oval and three massive accidents that collected a total of 24 cars. Harvick kept his car intact throughout each bout of calamity and despite leading only two laps, the second lap led was the one that counted most. Harvick got underneath race-leader Jamie McMurray in the track’s tri-oval to sweep past McMurray and take the win by just .011 of a second. It was just the 12th of Harvick’s 58 career Cup Series wins. In addition to his 41 NASCAR Cup Series starts at Talladega, Harvick has eight NASCAR Xfinity Series starts, with a best result of second in April 2006.

At Talladega in October 2008, Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) enjoyed one of its most dominant days ever. The team qualified 1-2-3-4 for the first time in its history. SHR drivers then led 155 of the race’s 193 laps (80.3 percent), including the last lap by Aric Almirola, who delivered SHR’s milestone 50th points-paying NASCAR Cup Series victory and the organization’s 11th win of 2018.

With his third-place finish in the June 2020 race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, Aric Almirola tied the record of eight consecutive Talladega top-10s set by Dale Earnhardt Jr., from April 2001 to October 2004. Despite seeing his streak come to an abrupt end thanks to a multicar accident on lap 57 of last October’s race on the 2.66-mile oval, followed by his 15th-place finish there April 25, Almirola’s average finish in his last 10 Talladega outings is 9.3 – best in the NASCAR Cup Series. In 23 career starts, Almirola has one win, nine top-10 finishes, five top-fives, and has led 71 laps. In the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Talladega, Almirola visited victory lane in May 2017.

Sunday’s 500-mile race at Talladega will be Cole Custer’s milestone 70th Cup Series start and his fourth on the 2.66-mile oval. The reigning Cup Series Rookie of the Year’s 10th-place finish there in April was the best of his first three Cup Series visits and was the first of his two top-10 finishes earned so far this season. The 23-year-old from Ladera Ranch, California, had promising runs in both of last year’s Cup Series events at Talladega. In the spring race, he was set to restart fifth for the green-white-checkered finish, but his Mustang began to stumble from a lack of fuel, sending him to pit road for a splash-and-go. He finished 22nd. In the fall race, he was able to drive to the front on multiple occasions, but while running fifth just past the race’s halfway point, he was collected in a multicar incident that ended his day.

Chase Briscoe and the No. 14 Ford Mustang team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) gear up for the final superspeedway race of the season at 2.66-mile Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. In Briscoe’s first NASCAR Cup Series start at Talladega, he led his first lap in Cup Series competition and finished the 188-lap race in the 11th position – his best finish over the first 10 events of the season. Briscoe has made four Xfinity Series starts at Talladega with a best finish of fourth in 2019. He also has one NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start there in 2017, when he finished 22nd, and one ARCA Menards Series start in 2016, when he finished third.

The Sparks 300 on Saturday will mark Riley Herbst’s 71st career Xfinity Series start and his fourth at Talladega. While luck wasn’t on his side after being involved in accidents during his first two starts at the track, he bounced back in his last start in April when he finished fourth. Herbst also has five Talladega starts outside of the Xfinity Series – four in the ARCA Menards Series and one in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. He scored a runner-up finish in the 2019 ARCA race.

Of Special Interest

Be sure to check out our merch hauler at Talladega Superspeedway this weekend! If you can’t attend in person, you can shop anytime at store.stewarthaasracing.com

Riley Herbst Las Vegas NXS Race Report

Herbst Finishes 33rd at Las Vegas
Early Race Accident Ruins Top-10 Bid for South Point Ford Driver

Date: Sept. 25, 2021
Event: Alsco Uniforms 302 (Round 27 of 33)
Series: NASCAR Xfinity Series
Location: Las Vegas Motor Speedway (1.5-mile oval)
Format: 201 laps, broken into three stages (45 laps/45 laps/111 laps)
Start/Finish: 10th / 33rd (Accident, completed 31 of 201 laps)
Point Standing: 11th (2,005 points, 32 behind eight-place cutoff)

Race Winner: Josh Berry of JR Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner: AJ Allmendinger of Kaulig Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Justin Allgaier of JR Motorsports (Chevrolet)

Overview:
As the intensity of the playoffs heated up in the Nevada desert, Riley Herbst’s return to his hometown was cut short after only 31 laps in Saturday’s Alsco Uniforms 302 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The third-generation driver and the No. 98 South Point team started 10th when the green flag waved for the 201-lap race. Despite reporting that his Ford Mustang was loose, Herbst still felt the car had the speed to run up front. He stayed in the top-10 for a majority of the opening laps. Under the lap-25 competition caution, Herbst reported that there was still no rear grip, but his racecar was fast in turns one and two. Like the leaders, the No. 98 South Point team opted to keep its driver on track during the caution. Misfortune hit on the lap-30 restart as Herbst and the field was making its way through turns one and two. The 22-year-old driver was caught up in a four-wide situation when left-rear contact turned his racecar sideways. Multiple cars were involved and the damage sustained was too much for Herbst and his playoff-contending team to continue. They ultimately had to settle for a 33rd-place finish.

Riley Herbst, driver of the No. 98 South Point Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“I think that accident occurred because of old tires and a slick track. Everybody kind of spun their tires a little bit. I know the 2 behind me got a better run than I did into turn one, so I tried to shade down and give him the room he deserved because he got to the restart box better than I did. I jumped to the outside and tried to block a little bit and then gave it back to him. Four-wide into turn one doesn’t usually work out here at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. That’s a real bummer. We fired off pretty loose but I thought we would get the South Point Ford Mustang better and have something to contend with. Now we will have to go to Talladega and who knows what will happen.”

Notes:
● Josh Berry won the Alsco Uniforms 302 to score his second career NASCAR Xfinity Series victory, his second of the season and his first at Las Vegas. His margin over runner-up Justin Allgaier was 4.398 seconds.
● There were six caution periods for a total of 32 laps.
● Just 10 of the 40 drivers in the Alsco Uniforms 302 finished on the lead lap.
● Austin Cindric remains the championship leader after Las Vegas with a seven-point advantage over second-place AJ Allmendinger.

Next Up:
The next event on the Xfinity Series schedule is the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff Race on Saturday, Oct. 2, at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. The race starts at 4:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

-SHR-

Riley Herbst Richmond NXS Race Report

Herbst Finishes Fifth at Richmond
Tire Strategy Earns Go Bowling Team Third Top-Five of 2021

Date: Sept. 11, 2021
Event: Go Bowling 250 (Round 25 of 33)
Series: NASCAR Xfinity Series
Location: Richmond (Va.) Raceway (.75-mile oval)
Format: 250 laps, broken into three stages (75 laps/75 laps/100 laps)
Start/Finish: 20th / 5th (Running, completed 250 of 250 1aps)
Point Standing: 11th (590 points, 403 out of first)

Race Winner: Noah Gragson of JR Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner: A.J. Allmendinger of Kaulig Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Ty Gibbs of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Overview:
Riley Herbst and the No. 98 Go Bowling team’s pit strategy paid off in Saturday’s Go Bowling 250 at Richmond (Va.) Raceway as they brought home a fifth-place finish. Herbst was on a mission to gain points in the race for the NASCAR Playoffs. When the green flag waved on the 250-lap race, the Go Bowling driver quickly worked his way up to 14th before the lap-35 competition caution. He reported that his car’s balance wasn’t bad in the initial stages but could use an air pressure adjustment. He restarted 13th but was unable to hold the spot as new tires came up through the field. He fell back to 16th, where he finished the first stage. During the stage break, the team pitted for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment to combat a loose racecar. In addition, the No. 98 Go Bowling pit crew gained their driver a total of six spots on pit road to have him restart 10th for the second stage. Herbst stayed in the top-10 during the second stage, moving up to eighth by the stage end. During the final segment, Herbst was struggling with the short-run speed of his Ford Mustang and fell back to 13th on the initial run. When the caution came out on lap 183, crew chief Richard Boswell made the call to keep his driver out when the leaders came down pit road to put on their final set of fresh tires, hoping for a late-race caution. The tire strategy was successful. When the caution came out on lap 224 and Herbst was able to come down pit road to put on his final set of tires, the leaders had none to use. He restarted the race 14th, and a series of cautions that followed forced Herbst to rely on his fresh tires and short-run speeds. On the final restart on lap 244, the 22-year-old driver restarted 10th and rocketed his way to fifth in the final laps of the race. This was his third top-five finish of the 2021 season, and it grew his lead above the playoff cutline to 66 points heading into the final race of the regular season.

Riley Herbst, driver of the No. 98 Go Bowling Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“That finish was good, for sure. I wish we didn’t get the late cautions there, because maybe we could have stolen a win, but all in all I think that’s what we needed going to Bristol next week. We maintained the points, and hopefully we’ll go playoff racing back home. That tire strategy was all Richard (Boswell, crew chief), honestly. We were just playing defense because we couldn’t afford to have anybody else win, so we had to play defense instead of offense. Luckily, it paid off a little bit, and it was a good deal.”

Notes:
● Herbst finished eighth in Stage 2 to earn three bonus points.
● Noah Gragson won the Go Bowling 250 to score his fourth career Xfinity Series victory, his second of the season and his first at Richmond. His margin over second-place Justin Haley was .381 of a second.
● There were nine caution periods for a total of 58 laps.
● Twenty-seven of the 40 drivers in the Go Bowling 250 finished on the lead lap.
● A.J. Allmendinger remains the championship leader after Richmond with a five-point advantage over second-place Austin Cindric.

Next Up:
The next event on the Xfinity Series schedule is the final race of the regular season, the Food City 300, on Friday, Sept. 17, at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

-SHR-

Riley Herbst Darlington NXS Race Report

Herbst Finishes 38th at Darlington
Accident Ends Monster Energy Ford Team’s Day Early

Date: Sept. 4, 2021
Event: Sport Clips Haircuts VFW Help A Hero 200 (Round 24 of 33)
Series: NASCAR Xfinity Series
Location: Darlington (S.C.) Raceway (1.366-mile oval)
Format: 147 laps, broken into three stages (45 laps/45 laps/57 laps)
Start/Finish: 7th / 38th (Accident, completed 107 of 152 laps)
Point Standing: 11th (555 points, 400 out of first)
Note: Race extended five laps past its scheduled 147-lap distance due to a green-white-checkered finish.

Race Winner: Noah Gragson of JR Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner: Daniel Hemric of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner: Noah Gragson of JR Motorsports (Chevrolet)

Overview:
Trouble found Riley Herbst and the No. 98 Monster Energy team again in Saturday’s Sports Clips Haircuts VFW Help A Hero 200 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway after an accident ended the team’s day early and led to a 38th-place finish. The Las Vegas native was on a mission for a good finish from the drop of the green flag. He started seventh and, despite reporting an ill-handling racecar, Herbst continued to hold his position in the opening laps. The No. 98 Monster Energy driver ran in the top-10 for a majority of Stage 1 until his loose Ford Mustang caused him to fall back to 12th, where he ended the stage. When the caution came out on lap 45, crew chief Richard Boswell brought his driver down pit road for four tires, fuel and a major air-pressure adjustment to combat the balance issues. The Monster Energy team gained him three spots on pit road to restart seventh for Stage 2 on lap 53. On the restart, Herbst fought to stay in the top-10 but reported that his Ford Mustang needed more front turn. He fell back to 12th but surged forward in the final six laps of the stage as the front end of the car started to come back to him. Ultimately, he would end up 11th in the second stage. During the stage break, Herbst came down pit road for four fresh tires, fuel and another air-pressure adjustment. Unfortunately, Herbst was forced to come down pit road a second time to work on his Ford Mustang. He restarted the final stage 29th and didn’t waste time in his drive back to the front. He broke into the top-20 on lap 106, just eight laps after the start of the final stage. On lap 107, Herbst was continuing his race to the front when the No. 44 of Tommy Joe Martins slowed on the track in front of him. With nowhere to go, the No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang collided with the back of the slow car. The team would have to end its day 40 laps short of the scheduled race distance.

Riley Herbst, driver of the No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“I’m fine. I really wanted to see the replay before I comment any further, but I didn’t know why they were stopping in the center of the straightaway at Darlington. That’s kind of crazy, but I think we’re still good on points and hopefully we can go to Richmond with that cushion. Hopefully, we can gain a few more points there and then we’ll be a little bit more comfortable for Bristol. It was up-and-down, for sure. We definitely got better there at the end and we had decent pace. It’s just frustrating why somebody is stopping on the back straightaway.”

Notes:
● Noah Gragson won the Sport Clips Haircuts VFW Help A Hero 200 to score his third career Xfinity Series victory, his first of the season and his first at Darlington. His margin over second-place Harrison Burton was .219 of a second.
● There were eight caution periods for a total of 41 laps.
● Twenty-seven of the 40 drivers in the Sport Clips Haircuts VFW Help A Hero 200 finished on the lead lap.
● AJ Allmendinger remains the championship leader after Darlington with a one-point advantage over second-place Austin Cindric

Next Up:
The next event on the Xfinity Series schedule is the Go Bowling 250 on Saturday, Sept. 11 at Richmond (Va.) Raceway. The race starts at 2:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

-SHR-

In the Know – Darlington

“In the Know”
Darlington Raceway

The Cook Out Southern 500 is a NASCAR Crown Jewel. Darlington Raceway is a family tradition and a premier Labor Day weekend destination spot. The 2021 season marks the track’s 71st anniversary, and has hosted 120 NASCAR Cup Series races. The first was on September 4, 1950. It was the first 500-mile race in NASCAR history and the first on asphalt.

“The sport is ready for a return visit to Darlington this weekend, and there is a lot to be excited about,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing. “Darlington has so much history and is so important to our sport. It has been a staple on the Cup schedule since the 1950s, and has provided a serious challenge to drivers over the generations. The abrasive track surface puts the onus on drivers to manage their tires and team members to keep up with the track and perform fast and consistent pit stops throughout a long race.”

Our drivers will try to tame the Lady in Black, while we kick off the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. For the 15th time in his career, Harvick is a part of it. Harvick qualified for the playoffs by virtue of his ninth-place finish in the regular-season standings. This is his 12th consecutive playoff appearance. Harvick won the championship in 2014.

This is the fourth consecutive playoff appearance in Aric Almirola’s four years at Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) and fifth playoff appearance of his 12-year career. Almirola locked himself into the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs with his victory July 18 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon.

The Details

Event: Cookout Southern 500 (Round 27 of 36)
Time/Date: 6 p.m. EDT on Sunday, Sept. 5
Location: Darlington (S.C.) Raceway
Layout: 1.366-mile egg-shaped oval
Laps/Miles: 367 laps/501.3 miles
Stage Lengths: Stage 1: 115 laps / Stage 2: 115 laps / Final Stage: 137 laps
TV/Radio: NBCSN / MRN / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

What Our Drivers are Saying:

Kevin Harvick, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

You say you’re not going to change your approach, despite not scoring a win yet this season. Is it hard to stick with what got you to the playoffs, or is this where your experience comes into play?
“You can pull something apart a whole lot faster than you can build it. As you look through the years, it’s very easy to sit back and just chime in and jump all over people. That’s really easy. Obviously, there are still times that you need to do that, but the thing I’ve learned is the fact that you’ve got a group of people around that you know can win and do the things that you need to do, but sometimes you’re just off. The problem solving in our world is difficult, and sometimes it’s a whole bunch of small things, and trying to push something – and I’ve done it a couple of times this year on the racetrack – you try to push something a little bit further than it can go and you wind up with the fenders torn off and you make bad worse. There’s no reason to make the problem worse than it needs to be. You have to be part of the process and the solution in order to solve the equation. Obviously, we all want to win and run better and do the things that we need to do, but Saturday night (at Daytona) kind of sums up the way it’s gone this year. You think you’re in a good position and don’t make it through the last corner. That’s just kind of the way that it’s gone. You ride the wave down just like you ride the wave up. You just hope that your wave down is shorter than most people’s and you can ride that wave back up when it’s right.”

Aric Almirola, Driver of the No. 10 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

Looking through the playoffs what will it take to be successful and where do you think you team stacks up?
“As we eye the playoffs, it’s really just about doing everything perfect and maximizing the day that you have. All of those things add up to results and that’s what we really focus on as we dive into the playoffs – not making mistakes and not taking yourself out of contention, making sure we maximize every single race weekend and every single lap. I feel like we stack up nicely with the competition despite what the results of the year may show. The rules package in some of the first few races is the rules package that we’ve had the most success with and won with at New Hampshire. There are certainly going to be some challenges at a few of the tracks in the playoffs, and there will be some where our competition is better. I’m looking forward to the challenge and I think there are some really good tracks in the playoffs for us.”

Chase Briscoe, Driver of the No. 14 HighPoint.com/Founders Federal Credit Union Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

We know you’re capable of winning at Darlington, and the May race result showed that your comfort with the track has transferred to the Cup Series. Can you improve on that finish this weekend?
“I really think this will be a good racetrack for us. It’s too bad we’re not in the playoffs, but we ran really well there in the spring and nearly had a top-10. We’ve got a good baseline to work off of and hopefully we can keep chipping away at it this weekend and show the progress we’ve made.”

Cole Custer, Driver of the No. 41 HaasTooling.com Demo Day Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing

Is there a race you’re looking forward to more than any of the others over these last 10 events of the season?
“I would say Darlington is one I’m looking forward to. It’s one of those races that every driver looks forward to because of the challenge behind it and how much you can do as a driver. There are so many different lanes you can work and you’re running right up against the wall. It’s just a driver’s racetrack and I feel there’s not one guy who doesn’t feel excited when they hear Darlington is coming up.”

SHR Stats

Kevin Harvick is the defending winner of the Southern 500. In last year’s race, the driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang led three times for 32 laps, including the final 13, to beat second-place Austin Dillon by .343 of a second. It was Harvick’s eighth win of 2020. He would go on to win one more race – the Sept. 19 Bass Pro Shops/NRA Night Race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. His nine wins in a single season were a series-best and career-best, all in Harvick’s 20th year of NASCAR Cup Series racing.

Darlington is known as “The Track Too Tough To Tame” but Harvick has tamed the venerable 1.366-mile oval three times. The 45-year-old racer from Bakersfield, California, owns two Southern 500 victories (2014 and 2020) and one win in the track’s 400-mile race. In fact, Harvick enters Darlington with an impressive record – he hasn’t finished outside the top-10 since 2012.

In 12 starts at the 1.33-mile egg-shaped oval, Aric Almirola has earned two top-10 finishes, which came in back-to-back starts last year in May and September. In his most recent start, the Smithfield Ford team was forced to start at the rear of the field and, after proving to have speed by gaining 10 positions in only six laps, Almirola’s day was cut short when the No. 47 contacted his rear bumper and spun him into the inside wall.

Saturday’s 500-mile race will be Cole Custer’s 66th Cup Series start and his and his fifth on the 1.366-mile, egg-shaped oval. The reigning Cup Series Rookie of the Year’s 12th-place finish in the Southern 500 last September was the best of his three Darlington outings in 2020. In this year’s Southern 500 at Darlington in May, an accident during Stage 2 of the race ended his day prematurely.

When the Cup Series visited Darlington on May 9, Chase Briscoe started 22nd and worked his way into the top-10 over the course of the 293-lap race. With two laps to go, while battling for a 10th-place finish, he made contact with the outside wall and ultimately crossed the line 11th. In the Xfinity Series, Briscoe claimed the victory in the series’ first trip to The Lady in Black, outdueling the winningest driver in Xfinity Series history, Kyle Busch. In his three career Xfinity Series starts at Darlington, Briscoe has finished no worse than 11th. As the final 10-race stretch of the season begins for Chase Briscoe and the No. 14 Ford Mustang team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, so does the final push in the pursuit of the NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year title. Though Briscoe is not part of the playoff field, he does have a chance to become just the third driver to earn Rookie of the Year honors in NASCAR’s top three national series. He would also be the first former ARCA Racing Series Rookie of the Year titleholder to accomplish the feat.

Of Special Interest

Be sure to check out our merch hauler at Darlington Raceway this weekend! If you can’t attend in person, you can shop anytime at store.stewarthaasracing.com

Riley Herbst Indy Road Course NXS Race Report

Herbst Finishes Eighth at Indianapolis
Monster Energy Driver Rebounds from Incident to Score Seventh Top-10 of Season
Date: Aug. 14, 2021
Event: Indianapolis 150 at the Brickyard (Round 21 of 33)
Series: NASCAR Xfinity Series
Location: Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2.439-mile, 14-turn road course)
Format: 62 laps, broken into three stages (20 laps/20 laps/22 laps)
Start/Finish: 6th / 8th (Running, completed 62 of 62 laps)
Point Standing: 11th (489 points, 407 out of first)

Race Winner: Austin Cindric of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner: Justin Haley of Kaulig Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: A.J. Allmendinger of Kaulig Racing (Chevrolet)

Overview:
Riley Herbst and the No. 98 Monster Energy team rebounded from a mid-race incident to finish eighth in the Indianapolis 150 at the Brickyard. Herbst started sixth in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and climbed to fourth after a lap-five restart. An opportunity arose when the caution flag came out again on lap 17 – just five laps before the end of the stage. Crew chief Richard Boswell opted to keep Herbst out on the track when the leaders pitted, allowing Herbst to inherit the lead on the ensuing restart. With only two laps to go in the stage when the race went back green, Herbst was in contention for the stage win until being passed on the final lap by Justin Haley. But Herbst’s runner-up result in the stage earned him nine valuable bonus points. The No. 98 team pitted during the break for four tires and fuel before trouble came at the start of the second stage. Herbst was moving his way up through the field after restarting 21st when he was hit by another car that had gone off track. Herbst continued to pass cars despite damage to the left-front corner of his Monster Energy Ford Mustang, along with damage to the rear of his car. Herbst made it up to 12th before the lap-30 caution. The team pitted to fix the damage and restarted the race in 24th. Herbst continued to pass cars, and a strategy call to stay out again when the leaders pitted ended up in Herbst’s favor as the caution came out with two to go in the second stage. Herbst finished ninth in the penultimate stage to gain two bonus points. When the race restarted on lap 44, Herbst was 16th. He made quick work of the drivers in front of him, rising to 13th in three laps. In the final few tours around the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course, Herbst continued his drive toward the front, passing five more cars to earn his seventh top-10 of the season and gain enough points to put his name above the cutline in the NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs standings.

Riley Herbst, driver of the No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“It feels really good to be above the playoff cutline after the day we had at Indy. Our Monster Energy Ford Mustang was fast and it’s been that way all season. Glad we could showcase it at Indy and, hopefully, we’ll take that speed over to Michigan next weekend. These next few tracks have been good to us, so we just have to put the races together to get the success.”

Notes:
● Herbst finished second in Stage 1 to earn nine bonus points and ninth in Stage 2 to earn an additional two bonus points.
● Austin Cindric won the Indianapolis 150 at the Brickyard to score his 13th career Xfinity Series victory, his series-leading fifth of the season and his first at Indianapolis. His margin over second-place A.J. Allmendinger was 2.108 seconds.
● There were five caution periods for a total of 15 laps.
● Twenty-three of the 36 drivers in the Indianapolis 150 at the Brickyard finished on the lead lap.
● Cindric remains the championship leader after Indianapolis with an 82-point advantage over second-place Allmendinger.

Next Up:
The next event on the Xfinity Series schedule is the New Holland 250 on Saturday, Aug. 21 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. The race starts at 3:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

-SHR-

“In the Know” Indianapolis Motor Speedway

“In the Know”
Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course

After 27 consecutive years of racing the 2.5 mile oval at Indianapolis, the NASCAR Cup Series will switch gears on Sunday August 15th and race the 14-turn, 2.439 mile road course for the very first time. The weekend will also feature a new NTT INDYCAR Series race on Saturday August 14th on the road course, prepping for another history making NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend.

The Details

● Event: Verizon 200 at the Brickyard (Round 24 of 36)
● Time/Date: 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, Aug. 15
● Location: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
● Layout: 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course
● Laps/Miles: 82 laps / 200 miles
● Stage Lengths: Stage 1: 15 laps / Stage 2: 20 laps / Final Stage: 47 laps
● TV/Radio: NBC / IMS Radio Network / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

What Our Drivers are Saying:

Kevin Harvick, Driver of the No. 4 Unibet Ford Mustang

For 20 years you’ve driven through the tunnel and into Indianapolis Motor Speedway knowing that you would be racing on the oval. This year when you arrive at Indy, you’ll be racing on the road course. What will that be like?
“For me, driving through that tunnel and understanding the history and everything that comes with racing on the oval at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is something that I always look forward to. I can’t imagine driving backward on the frontstretch and driving the road course in the infield. It’s an oval thing for me. When you look at the oval and you look at the history of the racetrack and everything that comes with that – some guys may not have grown up like that, so some people will have a much different opinion – but for me the oval just holds a huge place in racing and it holds a huge place in the things that I look forward to every year. I remember the first time I pulled in there for a test in 2001 and you roll into the racetrack and you think, ‘Man, I just accomplished everything in my childhood dreams, rolling into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.’ Getting to go out on that racetrack and hearing the echoes of the cars through the grandstand is something that I’ll never forget, standing there on the front straightaway. I’m sure I’ll get over it as we start to get into practice and realize it’s just another race but, for me, it’s going to be a difficult hurdle to overcome.”

Aric Almirola, Driver of the No. 10 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

What are your thoughts on racing the Indianapolis road course this weekend instead of the oval?
“If I’m being honest, I’m sad about it – to be just honest. I think racing on the oval was so cool just because I was a kid and went and watched an Indy 500 back in the late ’90s. It was a special place and to race on the oval was just special. I mean, you think about the history of that racetrack and the people that have run around that rectangular racetrack and crossed that yard of bricks and all those things, and all the races that went on before you dating back to the early 1900s, it’s just a very special place. So, to not race on the oval is weird. I’ll certainly miss it, but I have no doubt that we will put on an exciting race on the road course and it will be a lot of fun to try and figure that place out. These new road courses have been favorable with the fans, so I hope we put on a good show for them.”

Chase Briscoe, Driver of the No. 14 HighPoint.com/Ford Performance Racing School Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

When you revisit last year’s Xfinity Series win on the road course, what sticks out in your mind the most?
“It’s still hard to believe it happened. I thought I threw it away and then, somehow, we were three-wide. I’m still not sure how that happened, but once we got to the final corner on the final lap I knew that we had it. It was a special moment and I remember heading toward the line and the yard of bricks and just thinking, ‘Man, I wish we had fans here.’ I knew I wanted to climb the fence, I had been telling everyone all week that, if we won, I was doing it and I was kissing the bricks. It didn’t matter to me that it wasn’t the oval, I won at Indy and I may never win again, so I’m not skipping that. I had no idea at the time that it was the first race at Indy with Hoosiers finishing first and second. It was really cool to be able to be a part of that with Justin (Haley). The other piece that, of course, added to how special it was, was to get that win with Zippy. Never in a million years did I think I’d win at Indy for Stewart-Haas Racing with Greg Zipadelli as my crew chief.”

Cole Custer, Driver of the No. 41 Autodesk Fusion 360/HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing

It’s almost everyone’s first time on the Indy road course this weekend. Is there anything from the previous road-course races this year that can carry over into your performance this weekend?
“The Glen is a little bit of its own animal, I feel like, just because it’s so fast and a little bit different than everywhere else. Indy, I think you can take some of the stuff we’ve learned this year and apply it there. Obviously, this is the year we’ve run the most road courses and we’ve been able to see a lot of different things and I think you’re able to hone in on what you will need. I expect the Indy road course will be difficult. The simulator work we’ve been doing is to try and get ready and get acquainted with the corners, and then we’ll try and adapt as quickly as we can once we get there. That’s been the name of the game – you have to adapt once you get to the racetrack. We’ll have practice and qualifying, so that’s better than just showing up and racing.”

SHR Stats

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Unibet Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing, has made a total of 47 NASCAR Cup Series starts on road courses. He has 20 starts at Sonoma, 20 at Watkins Glen, three at the Charlotte Roval, two on the Daytona road course, one at COTA and one at Road America. He has scored two wins – Watkins Glen in 2006 and Sonoma in 2017 – along with 10 top-fives and 24 top-10s with 195 laps led.

Last weekend on the road course at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, Aric Almirola started eighth and ran in and around the top-15 for the majority of the race, ultimately crossing the finish line 16th. Almirola has 27 road-course starts in the NASCAR Cup Series. He has two top-10 finishes with a best of eighth at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, five top-20s at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International with a best finish of 12th, three top-20s on the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval with a best finish of 14th, and a top-12 finish in the non-points Busch Clash Feb. 9 on the Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway road course – his best road-course finish of the year.

Sunday’s 82-lap race will be Cole Custer’s 63rd Cup Series start. He drove to an impressive fifth-place finish in last year’s Brickyard 400 on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval. It was his first of two top-fives during his Cup Series Rookie of the Year campaign, which he followed up with a dramatic victory the following weekend at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. Custer will be making his eighth points-paying Cup Series race on a road course. In his seven previous points-paying Cup Series starts on road courses, Custer’s best was a ninth-place run on the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval last October.

Chase Briscoe returns to Indiana already a winner at the Brickyard. Last year, when the NASCAR Xfinity Series competed on the Indianapolis road course, he fulfilled a childhood dream by winning the Brickyard 150 on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn layout. The win made Briscoe the first driver to do so on the Indianapolis road course in a stock car.

Of Special Interest

Be sure to check out our merch hauler at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend! If you can’t attend in person, you can shop anytime at store.stewarthaasracing.com