• Riley Herbst enters Saturday night’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on a short-track attack. The driver of the No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing rolls into the .526-mile oval with top-five results in the series’ last two short-track races. He finished fifth Sept. 11 at the .75-mile Richmond (Va.) Raceway and third Sept. 17 at the .533-mile Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. Martinsville marks the fourth and final short-track race of the 2021 season.
• Martinsville will serve as a milestone for Herbst. Saturday night’s race will be the Las Vegas-native’s 75th career Xfinity Series start. Herbst will be in his familiar Monster Energy colors while racing under the lights on the flat and fast .526-mile oval. Eleven of Herbst’s 74 career Xfinity Series starts have come on short tracks. He has collected seven top-10s on short tracks, with his best result being his most recent – third Sept. 17 at Bristol.
• Herbst has made just two Xfinity Series starts at Martinsville. He finished sixth in his debut at the track last October, but then endured a 29th-place finish in his return to Martinsville this past April when a cut left-rear tire after contact with another car forced Herbst to make an unscheduled pit stop. Instead of running among the top-five like he had to start the final stage, Herbst went three laps down with only 86 laps remaining in the race.
• When the Xfinity Series raced at Martinsville last October, it marked the division’s first visit to the track in 13 years. Prior to its return, the last Xfinity Series race at Martinsville took place on July 22, 2006. Kevin Harvick defeated Clint Bowyer by .271 of a second. Herbst was 7 years old. Today, a 22-year-old Herbst races for the same team as Harvick.
• While a championship isn’t in the cards for Herbst this year, there’s still a points battle to be fought. Herbst protected his 11th-place point standing with a 13th-place drive last Saturday at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. Herbst wants to increase his 14-point margin over 12th-place Jeremy Clements while cutting into the 38-point advantage 10th-place Myatt Snider currently holds over him. Herbst has already proven his ability to make up a large swath of points in a relatively short period of time. Between the July 17 race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon and the Sept. 17 race at Bristol, Herbst erased a 54-point deficit to not only climb back into the top-12, but secure a 100-point margin over the top-12 playoff cutline.