Despite experience at each level of NASCAR and being known for their development program, Joe Gibbs Racing has yet to enter a full effort into the ARCA Racing Series. That’s all set to change in 2017 as the organization announced in December they’d be fielding a full-time entry in the series.
17-year-old Riley Herbst will be the full-time driver behind the wheel of the No. 18 Toyota Camry.
“I am just very blessed and thankful for the opportunity that I’ve been given, and very excited to make the most out of it,” Herbst told POPULAR SPEED. “Joe Gibbs and his whole team have had a lot of success at every level of racing they’ve been in, and I’m looking forward to partnering with them and being with them.”
In the past 25 years, Joe Gibbs Racing has built a reputation on success, scoring 140 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victories, including 12 this past season. They’ve also scored 131 XFINITY victories, along with six top-fives and 21 top-10s in 65 Camping World Truck Series. The multi-time champion team isn’t new to ARCA, but the last of their five previous starts came in 2005. The pair of races their drivers finished, they were able to post a pair of top-fives, to go along with the three other DNFs due to a pair of crashes and mechanical failure.
Going into the year, Herbst says he wants to continue the success the organization has had, claiming some wins of his own to add to their collection.
Herbst knows success himself, as this past season in the NASCAR K&N Pro East & West Series, he scored seven top-fives and 13 top-10s in 17 starts with Billy McAnally Racing. He also spent time competing in a super late model with Fury Racing, with crew chief Jeff Fultz and the guidance of Tony Eury Sr./Jr. He also did double duty as a rookie at the California Speedway in 2015, winning the track championship in the Irwindale Speed Trucks.
“I feel like our season went alright,” he said. “It could’ve gotten better as it was disappointing that we never got to victory lane with the Bill McAnally Crew. But overall, it was pretty good.”
Looking back on the experience, Herbst says the biggest thing he learned was “to take it one race a time and just be smart”. He also noted of the memorable moments in his career to date, there’s not a single one in which he could pick over the other.
“There’s a bunch of them,” he said. “Probably just going to the track with my family and hanging out. That’s what racing is all about.”
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