By Brian Eberly, Contributing Writer
MADISON, Ill. — The final results on Friday night at Gateway Motorsports Park credit Riley Herbst with a fifth-place finish in the ARCA Racing Series Papa Nicholas 150. But it wasn’t as good of a night as it looked on paper, as Herbst battled back from two issues during the course of the 120-lap event.
“Awful, I don’t know,” a dejected Herbst said on pit road after the checkered flag when asked to describe his day. “We had a good car and finished fifth with it.”
Herbst qualified his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in the fourth position after the field was set by practice speeds due to rain throughout the afternoon in the greater St. Louis area. But the Las Vegas native fell victim to issues on Lap 1 as contact from eventual race-winner Sheldon Creed sent his car for a spin and resulted in a trip down pit road for fresh General Tires.
“I had the inside the line and the 28 (Sheldon Creed) just gave me no room on Lap 1 and he just hit my nose and chopped me like I wasn’t even there. So that’s the second time he’s done that to me this year, so that’s super cool.”
Herbst was able to regain valuable positions before his second issue of the night hit under the yellow flag at Lap 65. ARCA officials penalized Herbst for passing the pace car under the yellow flag.
“Just a miscommunication I guess,” Herbst said. “In the drivers meeting, I thought the aprons are no speed limits on exit and entrance of pit road and apparently you can’t pass the pace car. I gave it back. But they still didn’t like that and they made me sit for a lap which sucked. We could have finished higher than fifth. We ran out of laps. It is what it is.”
There isn’t time for Herbst to dwell on his ARCA performance as on Saturday he makes his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut in the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota. It marks the second double-duty weekend in a row for the 19-year-old driver, who last weekend at Iowa Speedway ran the ARCA race and then finished sixth in his NASCAR XFINITY Series debut.
Herbst felt he learned valuable information to carry into his Trucks debut at Gateway.
“That top groove definitely comes in. Man it’s so tough to pass here with the aero. You wouldn’t believe it. It’s huge. You’ve just got to get clean air and that’s the biggest thing.”