Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) has announced that Riley Herbst will drive its No. 98 Ford Mustang during the 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Series season with primary sponsorship from Monster Energy.
Herbst is a 21-year-old racer from Las Vegas whose sophomore year in the Xfinity Series will come with the same team that in 2020 won a series-best nine races and led more than 1,000 laps with driver Chase Briscoe. Crew chief Richard Boswell, who has been a part of SHR’s No. 98 team since its inception in 2017, will continue in his role with Herbst.
“Being on a team with such a strong run of success is the kind of opportunity every driver wants,” Herbst said. “Expectations are definitely high, but the highest expectations are the ones I’ve set for myself. I’m proud to be a part of Stewart-Haas Racing and I can’t wait to climb into that No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang next year.”
Monster Energy has been a longtime partner of Herbst, with the energy drink company on board for the majority of the 33-race Xfinity Series schedule.
“We have been a part of Riley’s racing career since it started and we are genuinely excited about rejoining Stewart-Haas Racing,” said Mitch Covington, vice president of sports marketing, Monster Energy. “We saw Riley’s potential early on and it’s been proven by how quickly he has adapted to stock cars. He’s a next-generation talent with all the resources to succeed.”
Herbst began racing go-karts at age 5, competing in events up and down the West Coast. He soon followed in his family’s footsteps, transitioning to off-road racing in 2006 where his grandfather, Jerry, and uncles Tim and Ed, and father Troy, are all Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame inductees for being championship-winning off-road racers.
By age 10, Herbst sought a return to pavement. It began with Legends cars before moving up to Speed Trucks and Super Late Models, where in 2015 Herbst was a regular at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway, running both classes and winning the Speed Trucks track championship.
That set the stage for Herbst’s NASCAR path, as he competed in the K&N Pro Series beginning in 2016 before moving to the ARCA Menards Series in 2017. Herbst won his first career ARCA race on June 9 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway on his way to earning the series’ rookie-of-the-year title. Another season of ARCA followed in 2018, along with a smattering of races across the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, K&N Series and CARS Late Model Stock Car Tour. He even made his Xfinity Series debut June 17 at Iowa Speedway in Newton, qualifying ninth and finishing an impressive sixth.
Herbst ran a similar schedule in 2019 before a full-time drive in the Xfinity Series in 2020. As a rookie running all 33 races, Herbst scored four top-five and 17 top-10 finishes, with his best result being a pair of second-place results – Feb. 29 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, and July 9 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. And he continued to run select ARCA races, earning his second career victory Aug. 9 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.
“Riley has really just scratched the surface of his potential,” said Greg Zipadelli, vice president of competition, SHR. “He reminds us a lot of Cole Custer and Chase Briscoe – two drivers who came to SHR’s Xfinity Series program with plenty of potential who then realized that potential and, between the two of them, won a lot of races and are now in the NASCAR Cup Series. Riley has the talent to emulate what Cole and Chase did in our equipment and we’re going into 2021 with the expectation that we’ll celebrate his first Xfinity Series win together.”
SHR has enjoyed 21 Xfinity Series victories. Tony Stewart, who co-owns SHR with Haas Automation founder Gene Haas, believes Herbst is ready to add to that total.
“We built the Xfinity Series program to develop talent and ultimately win with that talent,” Stewart said. “It’s a proven path to the NASCAR Cup Series, and we feel that Riley has the ability to win and grow within our race team.”
Herbst will make his debut with the No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang Feb. 13 in the Xfinity Series’ season-opener at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.