Riley Herbst’s first season in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West is winding down. He is one of the top rookie drivers in the series. It’s quite a different path than the one his father and grandfather took in the world of motorsports. Herbst comes from a racing family, but the Herbsts were known for off-road racing and the Baja 1000 before NASCAR.
Riley Herbst has seven top-five finishes in 13 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West races.
“I just wanted to try something different,” Herbst said. “I wanted to try to make a career out of stock car racing. They were very surprised, but they are very supportive.”
Herbst is third in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West rookie standings with one race to go. The season ends at All-American Speedway in Roseville, California, the home track for his team, Bill McAnally Racing. Herbst put together a string of top-five finishes late in the season. He snapped that streak with a 19th-place finish at Meridian Speedway in Idaho in September. But he said his team showed great improvement in the second half of the season.
“I feel like in the beginning of the year we were a little bit behind the goals,” Herbst said. “From Iowa on, we started to click. I set my goals at top fives and top threes each and every week. We were starting to hit it. We just got some bad luck in Meridian. But I feel like we can end on a good note in Roseville.”
Herbst finished in the top five in more than half of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West races. He has seven top fives in 13 races. He posted a couple of podium finishes at Douglas County Speedway in Oregon and Evergreen Speedway in Washington.
“That was a pretty hard race,” Herbst said about the race at Douglas County where he finished third. “It reminded me a little like Meridian. We could never catch a good caution that would put us on the inside. When we were in third with three to go, we were really hoping for a caution to come up with a win there.”
He was also third at the race in Evergreen, where the Bill McAnally Racing team swept the top three spots in the race. Todd Gilliland won the pole and the race.
Riley Herbst is third in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West rookies standings after 13 races.
“We just had a good car,” Herbst said. “I feel like BMR was the class of the field that day. I was just happy to get a 1-2-3 finish.”
Herbst continued his streak of top fives during the doubleheader weekend at the Utah Motorsports Campus road course event in September. He was fourth in the first race and fifth in the second race.
“I am very comfortable on the road courses,” Herbst said. “I knew that if we stayed on the track, we would be right up there in contention. We were leading laps in the second race. We just needed the race to be a little bit shorter. I think we would have been able to come out of there with a win.”
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race at Meridian Speedway proved challenging for Herbst. He was collected in a couple of crashes and was knocked out of contention early in the race. There were 13 cautions for 92 laps in the NAPA Auto Parts/Idaho 208.
“We were running strong. We were top of the board in practice,” Herbst said about the race at Meridan. “We were just riding in third and somebody took us out in the first 30 laps. We worked our way all the way back up into the top five and then we got wrecked again which put us out of the race.
“It seemed everybody was on different pages and racing a little bit crazy.”
Riley Herbst is sixth in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West standings after 13 races.
With one race remaining in the K&N Pro Series West schedule, Herbst is sixth in the series standings. He is looking to end the season on a high note.
“We were just hitting on all cylinders, not all cylinders, but we were doing good and we were just hitting our stride,” Herbst said. “We had a little hiccup in Meridian. I felt like we were going to add to our stride a little bit longer.
“I wish we were higher than that, but we had a couple of instances, like in Meridian. Orange Show really killed us. We only got like five laps in at Orange Show. That really hurt us in points.”
On the verge of completing his first season in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, Herbst said he is grateful for the opportunities K&N has provided.
“It’s huge to have K&N on board to support our young NASCAR careers,” Herbst said. “Without them, I don’t think this series would be around. They are substantial to everything. They let us race, which is the most important part of it. They sponsor our series to let us go out and do what we love.”