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Silly Season: Riley Herbst to Joe Gibbs Racing in 2024?

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Joshua Lipowski

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While it was not necessarily breaking news, Eric Estepp dropped an interesting nugget in his most recent episode of “Out of the Groove”. While speculating about how Ford could be revamping their Xfinity Series program, Eric said that Riley Herbst could be shopping around to Joe Gibbs Racing for 2024. Could this work?

Why Would Gibbs Want Herbst?

It’s easy to see why Herbst would want to drive for JGR, especially considering how good of equipment JGR has, and the familiarity Herbst has with the team. Herbst has one year of experience with the team under his belt after spending the 2020 season with the team before moving on to SHR. The bigger question is why would Gibbs want Herbst?

Well, Herbst brings a lot of funding with him from Monster Energy, which is a sponsor already in-house at JGR. Ty Gibbs is currently sponsored by Monster Energy in the Cup Series. Monster has been a critical partner for NASCAR for years, including being the title sponsor of the series from 2017-2019.

Aside from that, Monster has been on race cars for years, particularly on Joe Gibbs Racing race cars going back to the mid-2010s. Monster Energy used to sponsor Kyle Busch’s Xfinity Series efforts, which is partly what brought the company to JGR.

Now, some people struggle with Herbst because he has not won a race before in any NASCAR National Touring Series. However, his performance is not nearly as bad as some people would be led to believe.

An Honest Look at Herbst’s Performance

Many people look at the goose egg in the win column in top equipment for four full-time seasons and stop there. However, when looking deeper, Herbst has actually been fairly consistent throughout his Xfinity Series career.

This year was the first year in his career that Herbst missed the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs. He had made the Playoffs on points in each of his full-time seasons prior to this year. He also had 66 career top-10s in 137 career races, which is a 48.1% top-10 rate.

Now, that’s not great by any means, but it is comparable to some other Xfinity Series drivers. It’s not too far off of Sam Mayer (50.6%), Josh Berry (54.4%), and Parker Kligerman (41.7%). Herbst generally finds himself finishing well.

The biggest issue with Herbst is his DNFs as he averages 7 DNFs per season. That is not an ideal stat line, but, he does find himself inside of the top 10 on a fairly regular basis as well. Let’s also not forget that he has two top-10 Cup Series finishes this year with Front Row Motorsports either.

If he brings in solid funding, then there is a place on a race team for a guy like Riley Herbst. He’s not a bad race car driver by any means. He may never be a Cup Series star, but, there is a place in the sport for him.

Should it be with a top-level team like Joe Gibbs Racing? That is the bigger question.

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