Date: Sept. 11, 2021
Event: Go Bowling 250 (Round 25 of 33)
Series: NASCAR Xfinity Series
Location: Richmond (Va.) Raceway (.75-mile oval)
Format: 250 laps, broken into three stages (75 laps/75 laps/100 laps)
Start/Finish: 20th / 5th (Running, completed 250 of 250 1aps)
Point Standing: 11th (590 points, 403 out of first)
Race Winner: Noah Gragson of JR Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner: A.J. Allmendinger of Kaulig Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Ty Gibbs of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Riley Herbst and the No. 98 Go Bowling team’s pit strategy paid off in Saturday’s Go Bowling 250 at Richmond (Va.) Raceway as they brought home a fifth-place finish. Herbst was on a mission to gain points in the race for the NASCAR Playoffs. When the green flag waved on the 250-lap race, the Go Bowling driver quickly worked his way up to 14th before the lap-35 competition caution. He reported that his car’s balance wasn’t bad in the initial stages but could use an air pressure adjustment. He restarted 13th but was unable to hold the spot as new tires came up through the field. He fell back to 16th, where he finished the first stage. During the stage break, the team pitted for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment to combat a loose racecar. In addition, the No. 98 Go Bowling pit crew gained their driver a total of six spots on pit road to have him restart 10th for the second stage. Herbst stayed in the top-10 during the second stage, moving up to eighth by the stage end. During the final segment, Herbst was struggling with the short-run speed of his Ford Mustang and fell back to 13th on the initial run. When the caution came out on lap 183, crew chief Richard Boswell made the call to keep his driver out when the leaders came down pit road to put on their final set of fresh tires, hoping for a late-race caution. The tire strategy was successful. When the caution came out on lap 224 and Herbst was able to come down pit road to put on his final set of tires, the leaders had none to use. He restarted the race 14th, and a series of cautions that followed forced Herbst to rely on his fresh tires and short-run speeds. On the final restart on lap 244, the 22-year-old driver restarted 10th and rocketed his way to fifth in the final laps of the race. This was his third top-five finish of the 2021 season, and it grew his lead above the playoff cutline to 66 points heading into the final race of the regular season.
Riley Herbst, driver of the No. 98 Go Bowling Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“That finish was good, for sure. I wish we didn’t get the late cautions there, because maybe we could have stolen a win, but all in all I think that’s what we needed going to Bristol next week. We maintained the points, and hopefully we’ll go playoff racing back home. That tire strategy was all Richard (Boswell, crew chief), honestly. We were just playing defense because we couldn’t afford to have anybody else win, so we had to play defense instead of offense. Luckily, it paid off a little bit, and it was a good deal.”
● Herbst finished eighth in Stage 2 to earn three bonus points.
● Noah Gragson won the Go Bowling 250 to score his fourth career Xfinity Series victory, his second of the season and his first at Richmond. His margin over second-place Justin Haley was .381 of a second.
● There were nine caution periods for a total of 58 laps.
● Twenty-seven of the 40 drivers in the Go Bowling 250 finished on the lead lap.
● A.J. Allmendinger remains the championship leader after Richmond with a five-point advantage over second-place Austin Cindric.
The next event on the Xfinity Series schedule is the final race of the regular season, the Food City 300, on Friday, Sept. 17, at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!