The No. 15 Ford Mustang of Rick Ware Racing is going to have a new driver for the season-opening race. Riley Herbst will take on the Daytona 500 for the first time in his career.
Rick Ware Racing announced the news on January 31 with a press release. The NASCAR Cup Series team confirmed the reports that Herbst will make his debut in the series while taking over the No. 15. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver will also showcase a new partner as SunnyD takes over the Cup Series car.
“It’s great to have Riley making his first NASCAR Cup Series start with RWR and be a part of the next step in his career,” said team owner Rick Ware. “We are very pleased to partner with Harvest Hill Beverage Company and promote its SunnyD brand on our No. 15 Ford Mustang in such an incredible event.”
Herbst will not have to worry about beating out other drivers to secure a spot on the starting grid. The No. 15 Ford is a chartered entry, so it will have an automatic place. Herbst will just have to focus on qualifying and the Bluegreen Vacations Duels.
Herbst Fulfills a Racing Dream in Mid-February
The Las Vegas native has extensive experience in multiple national series. He has made 11 starts in the Craftsman Truck Series, and he has made 109 starts in the Xfinity Series.
Joining RWR for the season-opening trip to Daytona International Speedway presents Herbst with a major opportunity. He will take on the Cup Series for the first time in his racing career, and he will try to deliver a strong performance while gaining critical experience.
“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,” Herbst said in a press release. “It’s such a big event and for it to 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 No. 15 SunnyD Ford Mustang.”
While Herbst has no national series wins, he has turned in some strong performances at NASCAR’s superspeedways while competing in the Xfinity Series. This includes two fourth-place finishes and a 10th-place finish at Daytona International Speedway.
Surrounding Drivers Will Provide Important Knowledge
There will certainly be a steep learning curve for Herbst, but he will be able to lean on some drivers with more experience. As a member of Stewart-Haas Racing, he will have access to 2007 Daytona 500 champ Kevin Harvick, two-time superspeedway winner Aric Almirola, Chase Briscoe, and Ryan Preece.
Though there will be multiple other drivers with important feedback. One example is Ricky Stenhouse Jr., a fellow SunnyD driver and Kevin Harvick Inc. Management client. The driver of the No. 47 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet has not won the Great American Race, but he has one previous win at Daytona and another at Talladega.
“I’m appreciative to RWR for this opportunity,” Herbst continued. “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.”