By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
The climb up the NASCAR ladder continues for Joe Gibbs Racing’s Riley Herbst. The 19-year-old will make his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut in the Iowa 250 presented by Enogen, driving the No. 18 Advance Auto Parts Toyota Camry at Iowa Speedway on June 17.
“It’s huge,” Herbst said of the opportunity. “I can’t thank Joe Gibbs Racing enough for the opportunity to drive the car. It’s a pretty famous car, it wins a lot. I’m just really excited to hop in the car and see what I can do. This opportunity came out of thin air, and you can’t refuse an opportunity like this, so we had to jump on it.”
Herbst, who is competing full-time in the ARCA Racing Series, has two previous starts at the 0.875-mile Tri-Oval. In the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, the NASCAR Next driver started third and finished second in 2016. In ARCA competition, the Las Vegas, NV native finished 12th, one lap down last year.
“That place is awesome, it’s cool,” Herbst said about Iowa. “I feel like that it’s every short-trackers dream to race there. It’s a fast-short track. I’m looking forward to going back there. I’ve had pretty good results there. I learned how to manage my tires there for a longer run.”
Herbst joins Daniel Suarez, Denny Hamlin, Erik Jones, Kyle Benjamin, Kyle Busch, Noah Gragson, and Ryan Preece as a driver of Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 Toyota Camry this year. The team has visited victory lane twice this season, at Bristol with Preece, and Pocono with Busch. The team has scored six top-five and 12 top-10 finishes so far this season.
Herbst has 27 career ARCA Racing Series starts with one victory, nine top-fives, 15 top-10s, and one pole position. He will compete in the Herr’s Potato Chips 200 at Madison International Speedway on June 15 prior to making his NASCAR National Series debut. Herbst is third in the Championship standings, 235-points behind points leader Sheldon Creed.
Herbst is also scheduled to make two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts for Kyle Busch Motorsports at Gateway Motorsports Park next weekend and Las Vegas Motor Speedway later this season.