By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
CONCORD, N.C. – Riley Herbst led the way in a rain-shortened practice for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco 300.
Herbst and his No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang team has been looking to rebound. In the last three races, the Las Vegas, NV native finished outside the top-15. Herbst looked forward to practice at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the first practice session on a 1.5-mile track since Las Vegas Motor Speedway in February 2020.
Last season, Stewart-Haas Racing earned nine victories with Chase Briscoe in the No. 98 Ford Mustang. 11 races into the 2021 season, Herbst has just two top-five and three top-10 finishes.
“I feel like the biggest thing is doing what we’re doing, explained Herbst. “I knew it was going to be a challenge this year. I knew that they had fast cars last year, but me and Chase (Briscoe) are different race car drivers and we both want a little bit something different in our race cars, and it was going to take a while to figure out. To be honest, we had better speed than I expected the first few races at the mile-and-a-halves, and we just didn’t get the finishes.
“I feel like that’s why we’re looking out of the playoffs right now, but the biggest thing we can pick up on is just unloading off the truck better. This is huge being able to work on the race car, so Richard (Boswell, crew chief) and the boys know what I want in the racecar, and we can move forward to the next mile-and-a-half and racetracks going forward.”
Just as the NASCAR Xfinity Series was about to roll out for practice, the skies opened up. After the brief rainstorm, practice started, shortened by 15 minutes. The session ran for just shy of 32 minutes before began to rain once again.
“Hopefully, (Xfinity practice) didn’t get cancelled out,” explained Herbst. “That was my biggest thing. I’ve been looking forward to this practice since probably Atlanta, just working with a new team and want as much experience with them and Richard (Boswell, crew chief) as possible. Really glad the rain stayed away and were able to put some quick lap times down and have a good Ford Mustang.”
The 22-year-old ran a 30.263 second, 178.435 MPH lap time at the 1.5-mile quad oval. Herbst beat Daniel Hemric by 0.018 seconds for the top spot on the speed charts in practice.
AJ Allmendinger, Ty Gibbs, and Brandon Jones rounded out the top-five in practice. Austin Cindric, NASCAR Cup Series driver Briscoe, Dillon Bassett, Harrison Burton, and Ty Dillon completed the top-10. Cup Series driver and two-time Xfinity champion Tyler Reddick was 11th fastest in Jordan Anderson Racing’s No. 31 Bommarito Automotive Group Chevrolet Camaro SS.
Brett Moffitt’s No. 02 Good Sam Chevrolet Camaro SS billowed smoke when it first hit the race track. His Our Motorsports team remedied the issue before he returned to the track. Moffitt was 25th fastest.
NASCAR Xfinity Series qualifying for the Alsco 300 is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. ET on Saturday, May 29 on FS1.
Featured Photo Credit: Photo by NKP / NKP Photo