Herring Returns to Nationwide Action
By Summer Bedgood – An unfamiliar and unheralded name in the sport returns to the seat this weekend at Kentucky Speedway for the NASCAR Nationwide Series for Joe Gibbs Racing, and one has to wonder what the guy has to do to get some attention.
26-year-old Drew Herring returns to the seat of the No. 54 Toyota for his fourth race of the season and second at the mile-and-a-half track. Herring has been in the No. 54 twice this year and once in the 18, with an average finish of 17.7.
Here’s why you should care about Herring. He’s actually a relatively good driver for someone who has been in a NASCAR stock car so few times. This year alone in his three starts, Herring has finished 11th, sixth, and 36th, though that 36th was a result of crash and didn’t reflect Herring’s racing ability. He had run in the top 10 during parts of the night at Bristol and was in no way a back-runner.
During the last race at Iowa in early August, Herring even won the pole and led 26 laps before that 11th place run.
The strange thing about Herring is that he only has 12 starts in his entire Nationwide Series career, beginning in 2010. The only other NASCAR national series he has competed in is the Camping World Truck Series, with one start at Iowa in 2012 for Kyle Busch Motorsports. He finished seventh.
In those 12 career NNS starts, Herring has one top five, four top 10s, and an average finish of 17th.
So who is Herring? Digging back even further to his career, his professional stock car appearances still seem to be far and few between considering Joe Gibbs’ Racing’s interest in him. He only still has two ARCA Racing Series starts and neither finish was inside the top 15.
However, this driver is no slouch. In 2008, Herring ran all but five races in the X-1R Pro Cup Series, with two top fives and seven top 10s and earning rookie of the year honors. In 2009, he ran the full schedule, earning one win, seven top fives, and nine top 10s in 14 races, finishing third in the championship standings and fifth in the overall driver standings.
Still, this ride doesn’t come without pressure. Herring’s ride in the No. 54 comes into Kentucky with ten trips to Victory Lane in 26 races, all of them with Kyle Busch behind the wheel. Owen Kelly has also been in the car twice this year—at the road courses at Road America and Mid-Ohio—and has finished fourth and 23rd, respectively. Joey Coulter, the only other driver to drive the 54 car, finished 21st in his one start.
For Herring, there are no excuses. He is driving with arguably the best team in the Nationwide Series and is expected to perform with this opportunity.
So far, he has, though this weekend will represent a challenge that Herring has rarely faced in his career. Herring has only twice raced at tracks over a mile in his career: once at Kansas and once in Kentucky. He finished 28th at Kansas in 2010 and fourth at Kentucky last year.
Though Herring is not yet a superstar, he has shown huge potential in his limited experience. While you’re watching the race in Kentucky this Saturday night, keep an eye on Herring. You might just be surprised at what you see.