Pocono Raceway, June of 2017. Three years marked the time since Joe Gibbs Racing driver Riley Herbst notched his first career ARCA Menards Series win. Now three years later, after many second-place finishes, Herbst continued Joe Gibbs Racing’s 2020 ARCA winning streak at Michigan International Speedway and scored the fourth checkered flag of the year under the JGR banner.
“Clean air is everything,” Herbst said about the victory. “Especially with these bigger tapered spacers on it. You can’t get any runs or anything like that. Veteran Tony Hirschman (Spotter) on the spotter stand for me. We walked it through and we had to get it done on the restart, if we wanted to win this race. Just because, it’s so tough to pass with big spoilers and low horsepower. So, we got it done on the restart, and was aggressive on the side drafting to get the victory.”
Two five minute segment breaks took place throughout the 100 lap event at Michigan.
Herbst, the Californian, made his name known early by leading the first four laps before Kansas winner Bret Holmes grabbed the lead on Lap four and led through the first segment break. Drew Dollar, Ryan Repko, and Michael Self were the top five.
Once the five minute red flag was completed, the restart came on Lap 35 and Herbst was back in the lead for one lap until Holmes prevailed on Lap 36 and led for 29 laps.
However, at Lap 53, seven laps before the second segment, the caution flag flew for the No. 21 GMS Racing machine of Kris Wright. Wright, the Pennsylvania native, who was making his ARCA Menards Series debut ahead of his NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series debut at Daytona Road Course next week, crashed hard in Turns 1 and 2. He was running solidly inside the top 10.
With the yellow, a three-lap dash to the break was seen. Even though Herbst had a great car, Holmes continued to fend him off and was the leader at the second red flag. Herbst, Dollar, Self, and Alfredo were the top five under the Lap 60 segment break.
The final restart came on Lap 64, right around 36 to go. Herbst, in the No. 18 Monster Energy Toyota, got around Holmes off the restart and began to check out over second place. There were a couple of moments when Holmes would get a draft and suck up right behind Herbst to try and get the lead. Despite Holmes’ best efforts, Herbst broke the draft and remained the leader.
As no other cautions flew, Herbst led the final 34 laps and kept Holmes at bay to win by 1.456 seconds for his second career ARCA Menards Series victory.
Meanwhile, Holmes had to settle for what he called a “disappointing second place” after leading the most laps of 61.
“It’s just frustrating,” Holmes said on his second-place finish. “I feel like on the intermediate stuff, we come to win races now. Not run second. I want to be happy about that, but it’s hard to. You come to these races to win. The side drafting was a lot of fun at the beginning, but I don’t think the outside lane on the restarts were too big of a difference. We would get a really good launch on the initial restart and then, he’d (Herbst) had a car behind him to push him and that’s what got him in front of me, cleared me. It’s just the way clean air works here.”
There were three cautions for 13 laps and six lead changes among two drivers.
Official Results following the VizCom 200 at Michigan International Speedway.
- Riley Herbst, led 39 laps
- Bret Holmes, led 61 laps
- Michael Self
- Drew Dollar
- Anthony Alfredo
- Hailie Deegan
- Ryan Repko, 1 lap down
- Jason Kitzmiller, 1 lap down
- Thad Moffitt, 1 lap down
- Armani Williams, 4 laps down
- Tim Richmond, 7 laps down
- Brad Smith, 14 laps down
- Scott Melton, OUT, Mechanical
- Kris Wright, OUT, Accident
- Morgen Baird, OUT, Brakes
- Con Nicolopoulos, OUT, Oil Leak
- Mike Basham, OUT, Transmission
Up Next: The ARCA Menards Series visits the Daytona Road Course Friday, August 14 at 5 p.m. ET on MAVTV.