Imagine heading into America’s heartland for your first NASCAR National Series debut at Iowa Speedway in Newton, IA. Riley Herbst with Joe Gibbs Racing is one of two drivers making NASCAR Xfinity Series debuts on Sunday. GMS Racing’s Justin Haley is also making his Xfinity Series debut at Iowa along with Herbst.
The difference between the two is that Haley is racing full-time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and is eighth in the series point standings. He’s above the playoff cut line and has a good chance at competing for the championship in the series playoffs this fall.
For Herbst, he’s racing full-time in the ARCA Racing Series and is now third in the point standings after earning Rookie of the Year honors in the series last season. Herbst says his expectations for the Iowa 250 is mainly to learn and grow as a driver.
“My expectations are just to learn and become a better racecar driver at the end of the week,” says Herbst. “Just try to learn each lap and be there at the end.”
And coming into the race weekend, Herbst brings his experience in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West as well as in the ARCA Racing Series. In 20 K&N starts he has 12 top-five and 16 top-ten finishes. In 28 ARCA starts Herbst has one pole award at Elko, nine top-fives, and 15 top-tens along with one win at Pocono last year. Herbst point of view is that experience is everything up to now.
“Everything I’ve learned in the past growing up and learning how to deal with a race car,” says Herbst.
Herbst says there are some similarities in racing ARCA and Xfinity, but there are also some differences he’s noticed from his practice session on Saturday.
“They race pretty similar, but you can tell this one (Xfinity) is a little bit more on edge and a little bit more free. And it’s a lot of fun to drive.”
There are probably a number of reasons for choosing Iowa Speedway for a first National Series race, but again from Herbst’s point of view…
“It’s a good track, this track is awesome,” says Herbst. “It’s just a non-companion race with the Cup Series and I feel it can be a good learning experience.”
Watch the Xfinity Series race the Iowa 250 on Sunday at 5 pm ET on FOX Sports 1.