For the next 20 days, we’ll take a look at 20 drivers who we expect to break out in the 2020 racing season. Check out all of our 20 in ’20 posts right here!
WHO: NASCAR Xfinity Series driver #18, Joe Gibbs Racing
2019 RESULTS: Points ineligible, Xfinity Series; 9 starts, 3 top-10s
44th, Gander Outdoors Truck Series; 3 starts, 1 top-5, 2 top-10s
12 starts, 2 top-5s, 7 top-10s in ARCA Menards Series and NASCAR K&N Pro Series
WHY HE’S ON THE LIST: 2020 will be a massive year for Herbst as he gets the best opportunity of his NASCAR career, running Joe Gibbs Racing’s signature #18 full-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. The son of off-road racing royalty, Herbst has forged his own path on asphalt and finished in the top five of ARCA points twice before stepping into NASCAR’s second-tier series and scoring top-10 results his first two times in the car. He also nearly scored his first NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series victory at Talladega last year, attempting to make the winning pass on Johnny Sauter on the final lap before facing a block below the yellow out-of-bounds line.
But Gibbs’ flagship number carries a heavy weight no matter the series, and Herbst will be the first driver to race it in Xfinity full-time since Daniel Suarez in 2015. Herbst, Brandon Jones, and Harrison Burton comprise a young driver lineup at JGR, but with most of the team’s Cup drivers regularly moonlighting in Xfinity action, the trio have the added pressure of Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin waiting in the wings. Herbst has done an excellent job so far of keeping the car clean in his handful of races in it, but the quality of the equipment means that this team is expected to go for the championship. He’s won on big tracks like Pocono in ARCA before; can he do it in Xfinity, too?