By Seth Eggert, Associate Editor
A strong recovery from early race damage for Riley Herbst was derailed by a pit road speeding penalty with less than 10 laps to go in Saturday’s A-Game 200 at Dover Motor Speedway.
The Stewart-Haas Racing driver ran inside the top-10 early in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race. Just before the competition caution was set to wave, a brake rotor on Anthony Alfredo’s Chevrolet Camaro SS exploded. Some of the debris hit Herbst’s roof, damaging it by the escape hatch. The debris also put a hole in the nose of Sheldon Creed’s car.
Herbst brought his No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang to the attention of his Richard Boswell (crew chief) led pit crew. The attempted to fix the issue by taping the hatch shut. However, the hatch still had to be usable in the case of an emergency and NASCAR officials made the team cut the tape and find another solution.
Once the repair was completed, Herbst slowly climbed back up the running order. During the final 94-lap green flag run to the finish the Ford Performance driver climbed into the top-10. Like Creed, Herbst stayed out as long as possible, running the fuel out attempting to catch a timely caution.
That caution never came and Herbst pitted for a splash of fuel with just 10 laps to go. The Las Vegas, NV native cycled back on track just outside the top-10. However, Herbst was penalized for speeding on pit road and was forced to perform a drive-thru. That penalty cost him two laps, leaving him 21st when the checkered flag waved.
“We had a fast No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang, and then we got that damage,” Herbst said. “It put us back in the pack because we had to pit to repair it. We had a solid recovery, and then at the end, we tried to stretch our fuel window, but it didn’t work out in our favor. We got in trouble on pit road, and it put us two laps down. I hate it for my team. We’ll regroup during this off week and be back stronger at Darlington.”
The damage to the roof of Herbst’s Mustang kept the 24-year-old outside of the top-10 at the end of both stages. As a result, Herbst didn’t score any additional points. The 21st-place finish marks the fourth consecutive race in which incidents outside of the Xfinity veteran’s control ended a strong run.
The late-race pit road penalty dropped Herbst from fourth to eighth in the Xfinity Series points standings. He’s 65-points behind leader Austin Hill and 45 ahead of the cutline currently held by Sam Mayer.
Next for Herbst is NASCAR’s Throwback race weekend at Darlington Raceway. At ‘The Track Too Tough to Tame’ he has six starts with a best finish of third one year ago. Herbst has two top-five finishes at the legendary track.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Darlington Raceway is scheduled for Saturday, May 13 at 1:30 p.m. on FOX. The race will also be broadcast on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.