Stewart-Haas Racing announced Thursday that Riley Herbst will drive its No. 98 Ford full-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2021.
Herbst, 21, moves to SHR and a Ford affiliation after being a part of Joe Gibbs Racing’s development program with Toyota in recent years. Stewart-Haas Racing indicated that Monster Energy would be Herbst’s sponsor for a majority of the 33-race schedule and that Richard Boswell would remain the No. 98 team’s crew chief.
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Herbst replaces Chase Briscoe, who drove the No. 98 ride to a series-best nine victories and a Championship 4 berth last season. Briscoe is bound for his rookie season in the NASCAR Cup Series next year in Stewart-Haas’ No. 14 Ford. He succeeds Clint Bowyer, who retired from full-time competition to join the FOX Sports broadcast team next season.
“Being on a team with such a strong run of success is the kind of opportunity every driver wants,” Herbst said in a team release. “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.”
Herbst rose to NASCAR’s national ranks through a mix of go-karting, off-road racing, Legends Cars and eventually Super Late Model competition. He gained He has two victories in the ARCA Menards Series, the most recent of which came last season at Michigan International Speedway.
After two partial seasons, Herbst’s first full Xfinity Series campaign came in 2020, when he totaled four top-five finishes in Coach Joe Gibbs’ No. 18 Toyota. He qualified for the Xfinity Series Playoffs, but exited after the opening Round of 12.
“Riley has really just scratched the surface of his potential,” said Greg Zipadelli, SHR’s vice president of competition. Zipadelli added that Herbst’s development reminded him of the growth of both Briscoe and Cole Custer, who graduated from Xfinity success to the Cup Series with the organization. “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.”
Said SHR co-owner Tony Stewart: “We built the Xfinity Series program to develop talent and ultimately win with that talent. 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.”