Herbst wins SCOTT Rookie of the Year; Another full ARCA pull in '18

Herbst wins SCOTT Rookie of the Year; Another full ARCA pull in '18

TOLEDO, Ohio (Oct. 24, 2017) -- It was one of the closest and most competitive SCOTT Rookie of the Year battles ever fought over the course of ARCA's 65-year history. And when it was all said and done at Kansas Speedway last Friday, it was Las Vegas, Nevada's Riley Herbst who came out on top.

"Winning Rookie of the Year is cool," said the 18-year-old driver. "I knew it was going to come right down to the last race. I felt like we should have finished higher in the overall standings, but we got a win, so that's good. Felt like we should have had a few more wins; but I'm really happy with Rookie of the Year…all good learning steps."

"All good learning steps" that should serve Herbst well next year. It's already widely known that Herbst, with Joe Gibbs Racing, will be returning in the team's No. 18 NOS Energy Drink-UFC Gym Toyota to run the full ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards schedule in 2018.

"I’m really looking forward to next year. I wasn't old enough to run Daytona this year, so that set us back from the start. We won't have that issue next year. I really had no idea what was coming at me this year. I mean, you can look at the schedule and see what's on it, but if you haven't been to all these places, you don't really know what you're in for. I know what's coming at me now, and I'm going to be much better prepared to go after the championship."

In 19 career starts, Herbst finished out the year with 6 top-5 and 10 top-10 finishes, including a victory at Pocono Raceway in his first attempt on the 2.5-mile triangle. Herbst also finished 2nd in the next Pocono race and 2nd at the Road America road course. He was also 3rd on the Elko and Madison short tracks. Herbst was also a General Tire Pole winner at Elko and led 203 laps total over the course of the season. He finished up the year 5th in overall championship standings, despite not competing at Daytona.

Herbst went into the Kansas finale just two points behind Rookie leader Gus Dean. However Herbst finished ninth while Dean fell to 15th in the final running order. In the end, Herbst won the SCOTT Rookie title by just four points over Dean. Bret Holmes was close behind in third, 14 points from the top.

"It's all good," Herbst continued. "We set out to win the Rookie of the Year and we accomplished that goal. We wanted more out of this year but, all in all, it was a successful season. We take what we learned and move onto next year. I'd like to thank all my guys at Joe Gibbs Racing…they're the best at what they do. They don't cut corners and always bring a car capable of winning. As I get more up to speed, I know we can win more races. Big thanks to SCOTT for the Rookie of the Year…appreciate what they do for ARCA."

Herbst will officially receive the SCOTT Rookie of the Year award, worth $10,000, at ARCA's national championship awards banquet in downtown Indianapolis Saturday, Dec. 9. There is, however, one more hurdle that each SCOTT Rookie of the Year must clear before it becomes official: ARCA's SCOTT Rookie of the Year shall maintain a positive example of demeanor, conduct, character and code of ethics that best represent the series.

Herbst's crew chief, veteran Shannon Rursch, will be returning with the 18 car for 2018.

"Looking forward to it," said Rursch. "It'll be the same group of guys. ARCA's a cool deal…loved going to all the new places…sort of going back to all those grassroots tracks…Madison, Elko…it's all interesting. Looking forward to 2018."

Herbst is in good company among former ARCA Rookies of the Year, a list that includes Benny Parsons, Davey Allison, Bill Venturini, Frank Kimmel, Parker Kligerman, Chris Buescher, Alex Bowman and Dalton Sargeant, to name a few.