A championship celebration was happening along the frontstretch at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but another milestone was being celebrated at the entrance to pit road.
After he climbed from his No. 96 Toyota at the conclusion of his cool-down lap in the Ford EcoBoost 400, Drew Herring chatted with members of his team after completing his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race.
Herring became the 2,945 driver to ever compete in a points-awarding race in the 71-year history of NASCAR’s premier series.
Perhaps, a baptism by fire.
Homestead-Miami was Herring’s first time in a racecar during a race weekend in over a year — the most previous start was at the ARCA Menard’s Series finale at Kansas Speedway in October 2018.
Before that, Herring’s last NASCAR-sanctioned race was at ISM Raceway in Avondale, Arizona almost three years ago.
“All-and-all, jumping out here cold-turkey, feet first, it’s not terrible,” said Herring, who had been spending time prior to the race weekend in the simulator and covering thousands of laps of data.
But before the race, Herring was antsy. Prior to driver intros, one of his fellow competitors noted his anxiousness.
“Corey LaJoie, as he could see that I was sitting there, kind of bouncing a little bit, fidgeting, he’s like ‘Oh yeah, just so you know, soak it all in, you’re only one of like 3,000 people that’s done this.’
“And I’m like, ‘Thanks man, that’s exactly what I want to hear right now,’ but hindsight, it was pretty awesome,” Herring said.
Herring tried to give as much room as possible when the Championship 4 drivers raced around his No. 96 car.
At the end of the 400-mile race, Herring finished five laps down in 29th place.
What Herring will remember most about the race weekend, though, is a speeding penalty in the third stage of the race on lap 216.
“I’m extremely critical of myself, I hate making mistakes,” Herring said. “ I studied, studied, studied all weekend, and the main thing I wanted to do was not make any mistakes like that, but did it anyway.”
Herring told The Racing Experts he has nothing lined up for his 2020 racing plans at this time.
The deal at Homestead-Miami was a one-race deal, but the 32-year-old is open to “anything… with a steering wheel and four tires.”
“I want to do this a lot more, this is what I love to do, I love racing man, I want to be out here every week,” Herring said.
“I grew up watching NASCAR, since I was knee-high to a grasshopper, started racing when was 9, this is all that’s ever been on my list, is to try to accomplish and be out here. Finally made it for one, I want to do a whole hell of a lot more though, one is not enough.”
I am a co-owner and reporter for TheRacingExperts.com.