• NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Riley Herbst is heading home to kick off the 2021 NASCAR Playoffs. After a third-place finish at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway last Friday night, the 22-year-old Las Vegas native secured his spot in the postseason for the second year in a row, making him two-for-two in his Xfinity Series career. The third-generation racer is now returning to the city where he got his start in the motorsports world with winning on his mind. The Herbst name is well known in the Las Vegas area. His grandfather Jerry, uncles Tim and Ed, and father Troy, are all Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame inductees as championship-winning off-road racers. Herbst intends to keep the motorsports legacy going in the NASCAR world. In addition to Saturday’s Xfinity Series race in Vegas, the hometown kid will throw out the ceremonial first pitch Thursday night for the Las Vegas Aviators – the Triple-A affiliate of Major League Baseball’s Oakland Athletics – prior to their game against the Oklahoma City Dodgers.
• Furthering the hometown connection is Herbst’s No. 98 South Point Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), with the Las Vegas-based hotel, casino and spa adorning Herbst’s car for the second time in 2021. Featuring more than 2,100 guestrooms, the South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa overlooks the famous Las Vegas Strip and the serenity of the surrounding mountainscape. Each oversized guestroom features state-of-the-art LED televisions, as well as WiFi with high-speed internet connections. Guests visiting South Point Hotel will experience affordable luxury through a casino offering top-of-the-line gaming technology, more than 60 table games and a separate race and sports book area, 11 restaurants, world-class Costa Del Sur Spa and Salon, a 400-seat showroom featuring headliner entertainment, a 700-seat bingo room, a 16-screen Cinemark movie complex, a 64-lane bowling center, a 52,000-square-foot conference center, and an 80,000-square-foot exhibit hall. The venue is the “Official Hotel and Casino of Las Vegas Motor Speedway” and sponsor of Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race, the South Point 400. Connect with South Point on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.
• You have to play your cards right in NASCAR Playoffs, but the easiest way to advance is to win. Eight of the initial 12 playoff drivers will advance to the next round that starts Oct. 16 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. Up to three of those spots can be earned by three different winners in the first round that begins at Las Vegas, continues at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway and then wraps up at the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval where the playoff field will be whittled down to eight drivers. And if there’s a different playoff winner in each of those races, five spots are available to be secured via points. Herbst was able to point his way into the postseason, but he can lock in his spot for the Round of 8 by coming out of the gate hot and winning at his home track.
• What do you need to do if you don’t hit the jackpot at Las Vegas? Collect as many points as possible. Herbst used this strategy in his race to make the NASCAR Playoffs. He entered the July 10 race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on the outside looking into the top-12, 56 points below the playoff cutline. In the next eight races, Herbst erased that deficit to move all the way up to 11th in the standings by the time the checkered flag waved in the final regular-season race last Friday at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. While he enters Las Vegas seven points below the Round of 8 cutline, Herbst can use the same strategy to collect stage points and race his way into the next round by continuing his front-running ways.
• SHR knows how to win at Las Vegas. The No. 98 team swept both races at the 1.5-mile track in 2020 via Chase Briscoe. In February, he beat Austin Cindric by 2.874 seconds. Briscoe defended that victory with another win just seven months later, beating Noah Gragson by 1.370 seconds.
• The Alsco Uniforms 302 will mark Herbst’s fifth career Xfinity Series start at Las Vegas. The 22-year-old driver is on the hunt for redemption at his home track after an accident ruined a top-10 run for him just 56 laps into the series’ prior race at the track in March. In his first two Xfinity Series starts at Las Vegas in September 2019 and February 2020, Herbst scored back-to-back ninth-place finishes. He finished 12th in his third career start at Las Vegas last September.