Riley Herbst to make Cup debut for Ware

Orange juice and Monster Energy is definitely a mixture that university students would consume to stay awake for exams, but it is also a crossover for Riley Herbst.

Herbst will race in the NASCAR Cup Series for the first time when he enters the season-opening Daytona 500 in the #15 Ford Mustang for Rick Ware Racing with sponsorship from orange drink brand SunnyD. Other planned starts include the remaining superspeedway races at Daytona and Talladega Superspeedway.

“As a kid, you always dream of being able to race in the Daytona 500, and I’m able to accomplish that with Rick Ware Racing,” said Herbst. “It’s such a big event and for it be my first Cup start will be a crazy experience. I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do behind the wheel of the #15 SunnyD Ford Mustang.

“I’m appreciative to RWR for this opportunity. They’re a team that has a lot of experience in the NASCAR Cup Series, so it’ll be a chance to learn. The Fords have been fast in the Daytona 500 the last few years and their teamwork has helped them find Victory Lane.

“I’m hoping to lean on and learn from the other Ford drivers throughout the week as I get more comfortable in the Next Gen car and prepare for the Great American Race.”

Herbst is entering his fourth full campaign in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and third for Stewart-Haas Racing. Although he has yet to win, 2022 saw his best year to date as he recorded career highs in every statistical category including top tens (twenty) and top fives (eight) en route to a tenth-place points finish. He signed a contract extension for 2023 shortly after the 2022 Xfinity season ended.

Days after his new deal, the Las Vegas native entered the SCORE International Baja 1000 alongside his cousin Pierce Herbst and James Dean. The trio initially won the Trophy Truck Spec class but received a time penalty for speeding and fell to third. Herbst’s family has a long history in off-road racing, and his uncle Tim finished the 1000 sixth in the Trophy Truck category.

RWR’s #15 is the team’s multi-driver car, with six making starts in 2022: Joey Hand, Parker Kligerman, Ryan Preece, David Ragan, Garrett Smithley, and J.J. Yeley. Ragan ran the Daytona 500 and finished eighth followed by a ninth at the other Daytona round later in the year; it was the #15’s lone top tens as it placed thirty-fourth in owner points.

Herbst’s ride comes as RWR develops a new partnership with RFK Racing that replaces the previous alliance with SHR.