HomeNASCAR NewsNASCAR Teams NewsRiley Herbst Rumored for 23XI Cup Car After Stewart's Exit

Riley Herbst Rumored for 23XI Cup Car After Stewart’s Exit

Riley Herbst Rumored for 23XI: In the wake of Stewart-Haas Racing‘s unexpected closure announcement, the NASCAR community is abuzz with speculation about driver realignments, particularly focusing on Riley Herbst. With his impressive track record in the Xfinity Series and robust sponsorship backing, Herbst is rumored to be a strong contender for a seat at 23XI Racing. This potential move could signify a significant shift in the competitive dynamics of the Cup Series. As these developments unfold, the strategic implications for both Herbst and 23XI Racing invite a deeper examination of the evolving landscape of NASCAR.

Key Highlights

  • Riley Herbst’s strong sponsorship backing makes him a valuable asset for any team.
  • Herbst’s potential move to 23XI Racing could bring youthful energy and growing skill.
  • The closure of Stewart-Haas Racing opens up opportunities for drivers like Herbst to switch teams.
  • Herbst’s marketability and social media presence enhance his desirability for 23XI Racing.
  • Tony Stewart’s retirement is reshaping team compositions and opening new possibilities for drivers like Herbst.

Stewart-Haas Racing’s Disheartening Closure Announcement

Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) recently stunned the NASCAR community with the announcement that they will be ceasing operations following the 2024 season, causing significant uncertainty for their six drivers and approximately 300 employees. The decision, jointly conveyed by co-owners Tony Stewart and Gene Haas, comes as an unexpected and somber development for a team that has been a formidable presence in NASCAR since its inception in 2009.

The announcement highlights the complex and often harsh realities of motorsports, where financial sustainability and competitive viability are paramount. Despite their remarkable achievements, including multiple championship victories and a reputation for nurturing top-tier driving talent, SHR found itself at a crossroads. The exact factors precipitating this decision remain undisclosed, though it is understood that economic challenges and the evolving landscape of NASCAR likely played critical roles.

This move leaves a significant vacuum, not just regarding competitive dynamics on the track, but also in the livelihoods of its dedicated workforce. The drivers, a mix of seasoned veterans and promising newcomers, now face the challenging task of securing new affiliations, while the technical and support staff must navigate the uncertainties of employment in a highly specialized industry.

Additionally, the closure of SHR signifies the end of an era marked by innovation, resilience, and a competitive spirit that made the team a fan favorite. Stewart and Haas expressed their gratitude towards their employees and supporters, emphasizing the difficulty of this decision. As the NASCAR community absorbs this news, the consequences of SHR’s departure will certainly be felt for years to come, marking a poignant chapter in the sport’s storied history.

Riley Herbst Rumored for 23XI

Implications of SHR’s Closure on the NASCAR Landscape

The cessation of operations by Stewart-Haas Racing not only disrupts the immediate futures of their drivers and staff but also profoundly reshapes the competitive and organizational dynamics within NASCAR. The dissolution of SHR impacts the allocation of four starting spots, leading to significant implications for the sport’s competitive balance and charter negotiations.

These starting spots are coveted assets in the NASCAR Cup Series, and their redistribution could potentially benefit teams like Front Row Motorsports (FRM) and 23XI Racing. Both teams are likely to compete for these charters to expand their presence and influence in the series. This scramble for resources will inevitably alter the hierarchical structure within NASCAR, potentially leading to a more competitive landscape as newer or less dominant teams gain access to better opportunities.

Riley Herbst’s Prospects and Sponsorship Dynamics

Tony Stewart’s team last won a Cup Series race in 2022 with Kevin Harvick. However, their 2023 Xfinity campaign with Cole Custer and Riley Herbst is often overlooked. Custer won three races and secured his and Stewart-Haas Racing’s first-ever NASCAR Xfinity Series championship. Meanwhile, Herbst won his first race in Las Vegas but missed the playoffs for the first time since 2019, when he drove for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Bob Pockrass mentioned in FOX Sports that Stewart-Haas Racing now has four charters.

“it can sell, and sources indicated at least three of them will go to existing Cup organizations.” – (Bob Pokrass)

The rumored teams currently are FRM, Trackhouse, and 23XI Racing, which are technical partners of Joe Gibbs Racing in the Cup Series. Denny Hamlin, the co-owner of 23XI Racing, has driven JGR’s No. 11 Toyota for nearly 20 years and has achieved 54 top-level wins.

JGR could use the sponsorship money from Monster Energy because of Herbst’s well-known connection with the brand. However, it is very unlikely that Herbst will move to Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR). Additionally, even if NASCAR favored the older four-car teams like Gibbs and Hendrick, Martin Truex Jr’s retirement in 2025 is still just a rumor.

Even if Martin Truex Jr. retires at the end of 2024, former JGR drivers Noah Gragson and Ryan Preece might be better choices to replace him in the No. 19 car. Notably, Preece, who currently drives the No. 41 car for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), has won two Xfinity Series races in the same No. 18 Toyota that Joe Gibbs used for Herbst during his last winless season with the team in 2020.

Gragson made his Xfinity debut in the same car two years ago and finished in second place at Richmond. Gragson and Truex Jr. also share a common sponsor. This sponsor is rumored to be leaving a Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) car because Martin Truex Jr. is retiring. This creates an interesting situation for Gragson, who drives the No. 10 car and faces an uncertain future.

Bob Pockrass suggested some good news for JGR’s smaller allies. 23XI Racing is considering adding a third full-time car, and Herbst has a sponsor. However, it might be more challenging for Front Row Motorsports to sign the rising star.

“FRM (which would have two seats available) and 23XI will be seeking drivers if they obtain charters and would need sponsorship as well for them, making them possible landing spots for Herbst.” – (pokrass)

Riley Herbst Rumored for 23XI

Considerations for Potential Teams and Drivers

Herbst has made six official starts in the Cup Series. His best finish was ninth place at Talladega last year. Four of these six races were with Rick Ware Racing, who are technical partners with Stewart-Haas Racing. Herbst will share the No. 15 seat with Kaz Grala for up to thirteen race weekends.

Looking at the two teams considered potential landing spots for Herbst, 23XI Racing won at Talladega just last month with Tyler Reddick driving a car sponsored by team owner Michael Jordan’s billion-dollar sneaker brand. Meanwhile, Front Row Motorsports recently announced that their No. 34 driver, Michael McDowell, will join Spire Motorsports and its No. 71 team in 2025.

Adding to the challenges for the Ford Performance-backed team, their other driver, Todd Gilliland, has his contract ending this year. Despite this, FRM general manager Jerry Freeze has said they are always looking to expand. Therefore, keeping Gilliland could be important if Front Row Motorsports decides to add a third car to their lineup.

Furthermore, 23XI Racing could take advantage from Front Row Motorsports’ challenges, as their current full-time drivers, Bubba Wallace No. 23 and Tyler Reddick No. 45, seem secure in their positions. This means that for Herbst or any of his five SHR teammates to drive a 23XI car, they would need to take one of the four starting spots available from their former team. However, with Corey Heim set to drive the part-time No. 50 entry in Nashville next month, another uncertainty adds to the ongoing rumors.

Speculations and Rumors in the NASCAR Community

Corey Heim won the Truck Series championship in 2023. Besides racing full-time in the Truck Series, Heim is also a backup driver for TRD teams, Legacy Motor Club, and 23XI Racing. He’s 21 years old and his skills and current positions might help him surpass Herbst in all three Toyota-supported groups.

Still, a developing team like 23XI Racing, which just unveiled its new $16 million headquarters named “Airspeed” in Huntersville, NC, might need a bigger star from SHR. Maybe someone like Chase Briscoe? However, gossip hints that the No. 14 driver is likely to take over for Harrison Burton in the No. 21 Wood Brothers car.

Maybe even Cole Custer, who is Herbst’s teammate in the Xfinity squad, could be considered to match Heim’s 2023 Truck Series regular-season trophy win with Custer’s Xfinity championship from the same year.

“third in the Xfinity standings, will be driving a car next year but still to be determined whether it is Xfinity or Cup.” – (pokrass)

With the slim possibility of changes in JGR’s three-car Xfinity lineup, including drivers like Sheldon Creed, Chandler Smith, and Aric Almirola, Custer could be an excellent choice to replace any of them if Joe Gibbs needs to pick Martin Truex Jr.’s successor from the talent within Joe Gibbs Racing’s garages. Joe Custer currently holds the position of team president at Stewart-Haas Racing and serves as Chief Operating Officer for Gene Haas’ F1 team when the owners are away.

“if Haas wants to continue involvement in NASCAR, Custer would be the natural driver for his Haas Automation company to sponsor as it has sponsored Custer for several years and Custer’s father, Joe, is an SHR executive who has worked on Haas motorsports programs for decades.” – (pokrass)

Riley Herbst Rumored for 23XI

News in Brief: Riley Herbst Rumored for 23XI

The closure of Stewart-Haas Racing introduces significant shifts within the NASCAR landscape, fostering speculation about driver reallocations and team strategies. Riley Herbst’s potential move to 23XI Racing, supported by strong sponsorship and commendable Xfinity Series performance, exemplifies the ongoing realignment within the sport.

This shift highlights the evolving dynamics and strategic considerations that teams and drivers must navigate, emphasizing the intricate interplay of talent, sponsorship, and opportunity in shaping NASCAR’s competitive future.

Also Read: Riley Herbst Daytona 500 Return: Monster Energy and Racing Resilience

Saksham Chitransh
Saksham Chitransh
Saksham Chitransh is a Motorsports journalist specializing in NASCAR coverage for Slicksandsticks.com. With a keen focus on NASCAR teams, Saksham has penned insightful articles on prominent entities such as Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing, Team Penske etc. His in-depth analysis and passion for motorsports bring a unique perspective to the world of racing journalism.


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