Photo credit: Nigel Kinrade Photography courtesy of Joe Gibbs Racing SPARTA, Ky. -- Joe Gibbs knows how valuable a solid backup quarterback can be from his stints as the head coach for the NFL's Washington Redskins. And a solid fill-in and spot driver can be just about the same. Drew Herring was at Kentucky Speedway this weekend shaking down the No. 54 Toyota in practice and qualifying for Erik Jones ahead of Saturday night's NASCAR XFINITY Series VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Jones competed in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 175 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway before flying to Kentucky for the XFINITY race. Herring has played this role before in 2015. He practiced and qualified for Jones' in both Iowa events, even winning the pole in the No. 20 Toyota in May. He also practiced in the No. 54 Toyota at Chicagoland Speedway in June, helping to get the No. 54 setup for Jones' victory at the 1.5-mile track. So how does Herring prepare for his fill-in gig? "It helps that all of these guys (the JGR crew) are the best in the business and that we're driving good race cars, fast race cars and we unload close," Herring told NASCAR.com at Kentucky. "I'm not having to take our first run and really get acclimated and try and figure out what the car is doing because it's all so close. It really helps me out and then I just try to go back and watch races, talk with Erik (Jones), talk with Chris (Gayle, crew chief of the No. 54 Toyota in the XFINITY Series). "We've gone through things that happened the first race, what they looked for and what happened from practice to race. All those things just for me to download and to be as prepared as I can to give them the best read in the car and do the best job I can." On Friday, Herring showed off some speed and saving skills. He topped a rain-shortened final practice was a fast lap of 175.959 mph. He also made a great save in the latter minutes of final practice when he got loose coming off of Turn 4. "It's fun to get to drive these cars. It's not much fun getting out on race day but it's a whole lot better than sitting at home and watching." The 28-year-old North Carolina native has made 15 career XFINITY Series starts with the last start coming in the 2013 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway . He has five top fives with his best result a fourth-place run at Kentucky in September of 2012. Herring remains on the lookout for an opportunity that can put him in a car on a consistent basis. "I want nothing more than to be behind the wheel of a race car every weekend as much as I can. This is what I love to do. I've been doing it since I was nine. It's a true passion of mine and I thoroughly enjoy coming to the racetrack. "We are working on it but it all comes down unfortunately to not the talent side as much it comes down to the funding and the monetary side. We are constantly on the lookout for sponsors and trying to get people to want to be involved. For me, its just trying to find someone that wants to win races and championships because I know if we can get somebody on board, we'll do that for them. It's tough. There's a lot of people that are doing the same thing I am."
RELATED: Practice 2 results SPARTA, Ky. -- Rain ended Friday's on-track activity early for the NASCAR XFINITY Series at Kentucky Speedway . Final practice was set to run from 6 p.m. to 7:25 p.m. ET, but a red flag for wet weather came out around 30 minutes in with NASCAR calling it shortly thereafter. At the time of the stoppage, Drew Herring (175.959 mph) was at the top of the speed chart. Herring is practicing and qualifying the No. 54 Toyota for Erik Jones and Joe Gibbs Racing at Kentucky. Jones will be in the No. 54 for the VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 (Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) Ryan Blaney (175.661 mph) and Daniel Suarez (175.593 mph) were in the top three in the final practice session. Brian Scott topped the opening practice with a speed of 178.159 mph, followed by his RCR teammates of Ty Dillon (177.439 mph) and Brandon Jones (177.194 mph). Chris Buescher enters this weekend's race with a 25-point lead on Dillon and a 28-point lead on defending series champion Chase Elliott in the driver championship standings. Brendan Gaughan is the defending race winner. The VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 is the final standalone of the 2015 XFINITY Series schedule. XFINITY Coors Light Pole Qualifying is scheduled for Saturday afternoon at 4:45 p.m. ET (NBCSN/Live Extra) with the VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 scheduled for 8 p.m. ET. Brad Keselowski won the July XFINITY Series race at Kentucky in the No. 22 Team Penske Ford. That car will be driven this weekend by Ryan Blaney , who won this race in 2013 for his first career XFINITY Series win. It has been a rainy NASCAR season for the 1.5-mile oval track as much of the NASCAR tripleheader schedule in July was washed out by rain. All three national series races were run at their scheduled times, but most practice and qualifying sessions were rained out. RELATED: Practice 1 results Brian Scott topped the leaderboard during the final minutes of opening NASCAR XFINITY Series practice at Kentucky Speedway . In the series' final stand-alone event of the year, Scott had a fastest lap of 178.159 mph in his No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. Scott's RCR teammate, Ty Dillon , was right behind him, wheeling his No. 3 Chevrolet around the 1.5-mile track with a fastest lap of 177.439 mph. Next was Brandon Jones , who finished with the third-fastest lap (177.194 mph) after topping the leaderboard for much of the first session. Ryan Blaney (176.840 mph) and Daniel Suarez (176.811 mph) were fourth and fifth, respectively. Defending race winner Brendan Gaughan was ninth-fastest, pulling a fastest lap of 175.279 mph.
JGR's No. 20, No. 18 speed to top times RELATED: Full qualifying results Drew Herring did more than keep the seat hot for Erik Jones during qualifying at Iowa Speedway Saturday night. Herring was fastest in Coors Light Qualifying for the NASCAR XFINITY Series 3M 250 on Sunday (2 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1). Jones will get into the seat Sunday, but will have to start at the rear of the field. Herring , in the No. 20 Toyota, turned a lap of 134.391 mph around the 0.875-mile oval track in the final round. It was an all front row for Joe Gibbs Racing on Saturday night, as Daniel Suarez qualified second (134.351 mph) in the No. 18. Brian Scott (133.906), Chris Buescher (133.803) and Brandon Jones (133.752) qualified among the top five. Defending series champion Chase Elliott will start sixth. Ty Dillon , the series points leader (330) through nine races, qualified ninth. Scott led the final practice at Iowa Speedway with a time of 133.747 mph. Ryan Blaney , the 2014 pole winner for the May race at Iowa, will start 13th. Ben Rhodes , who will make his XFNITY Series debut Sunday driving the No. 88 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports, qualified 14th. Follow the XFINITY Series 3M 250 on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET with TV coverage on FOX Sports 1. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Hamlin will drive at Texas; Herring will drive at Phoenix and Homestead
Denny Hamlin says back feels a lot better and Drew Herring has a bright future with JGR.
Kevin Swindell crashes into the Turn 3 wall after contact with Drew Herring .
Pole sitter Drew Herring spins to bring out first caution at Iowa Speedway.
Drew Herring is done for the night after hard contact with the backstretch wall.
Suarez, Blaney starting on front row; Kenny Wallace qualifies seventh RELATED: Full qualifying results Daniel Suarez soared past Ryan Blaney in the final 30 seconds of qualifying to earn himself the second Coors Light Pole Award of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career. The No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota driver had a fast lap of 133.441 mph in 23.606 seconds during the qualifing session on Saturday at Iowa Speedway. Team Penske 's Blaney will join Suarez on the front row during the U.S. Cellular 250 Presented by New Holland (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, Sirius XM) after coming in second on the leaderboard with a speed of 133.373 mph (23.618 seconds). Rounding out the top three during the XFINITY Series qualifying session was veteran Brendan Gaughan in his No. 62 Chevrolet (132.861 mph). For his eighth start at Iowa Speedway, Gaughan is looking for his first win at the track. The drivers of the No. 33 Chevrolet, Brandon Jones (132.750 mph), and the No. 54, Drew Herring (132.760 mph), came in fourth and fifth, respectively. Herring was filling in for Erik Jones , who was en route from Pocono Raceway after the Camping World Truck Series Pocono Mountains 150 and was unable to participate in any of the practices or the qualifying round. XFINITY Series points leader, Chris Buescher , was next on the leaderboard as he qualified sixth with a fastest lap of 132.364 mph. Kenny Wallace was right behind Buescher with a strong seventh-place starting spot. Wallace will be racing for the last time as a full-time NASCAR driver Saturday night at Iowa Speedway as he recently announced his retirement. He is looking for his 10th career win. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Late spin foils Erik Jones' attempt to beat his boss at Pocono RELATED: Contact turns Jones around on restart " Full race results LONG POND, Pa. -- It looked like it was going to be the teacher battling his mentor and team owner for a victory. However, Erik Jones ' spin on Lap 60 ruined his chances of beating Kyle Busch in Saturday's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Pocono Mountains 150 . Running second at the time, Jones was in the middle lane challenging Busch for the lead when Austin Dillon 's right front made contact with Jones' left rear, which turned the driver of the No. 4 Toyota and spun the 19-year-old into Timothy Peters . Jones rebounded from the late-race trouble thanks to three green-white-checkered finishes to finish in 10th place for his ninth top-10 finish of the season. After the race, Jones pulled up to Dillon's car on pit road and the two had a civil exchange discussing the incident, even shaking hands afterward. Dillon explained his side of things to Jones, who mainly just listened. "It was a good exchange," Dillon said after the race. "I just told him the 05 (of John Wes Townley ) was in my left rear quarter panel and that's what I heard. I haven't seen a replay. I just felt like I was getting pushed and I was already loose. And I felt like if I lifted, I'd wreck, too. I chose the path to sustain it. I hate it for him. I was hoping he'd be able to save it. There wasn't much he could do off of 2. I hate it for him because he's running for points." Jones was disappointed to not get the win, especially when he was battling his boss for most of the day. Jones did edge Busch to win the 21 Means 21 Pole Award in the morning. RELATED: Busch wins at Pocono " Jones earns fourth pole of 2015 at Pocono "It was exciting," Jones said of racing against Busch, his truck owner, for the first time in the Camping World Truck Series. "I felt like we were definitely the two best trucks out there. "Unfortunately, we got spun out. You know, nothing you can really do about that. A solid day for us overall. Pretty good points day with the 88 (of Matt Crafton ) getting wrecked. We made up some good points. Could have made up some more had we finished first or second. But we'll take it." Jones sits third in the point standings, but is just 16 points back of series points leader Tyler Reddick and only five back of Matt Crafton for second place. Busch, who won the race, discussed racing against his protégé after the race. "He wants to win and that's where it all stems from," Busch said. "It's just competition. It's just the drive. He wanted to win today. He wanted to beat the boss, and he had the opportunity to do so. I don't know that I could have passed him if he was leading. It just didn't quite work out for him today, and that's tough. "And man, I've been there. I've hated it because you're still trying to make it in this game, and to make it in this game, the best way to do that is to win races and show people that you're the best and to not settle for second. Hopefully his top 10 will still continue to help him out through the rest of the year. I'm sure he'll still get some wins, and we can see him as a champion at the end of the year." Saturday was a busy day for Jones, who was doing his own version of the "double." From Pocono, he headed to Iowa Speedway for Saturday night's U.S. Cellular 250 presented by New Holland where he finished seventh. Since he couldn't be in Iowa for practices and qualifying, Drew Herring shook down the No. 54 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing . Jones is slated to attempt a similar double on Sept. 26 when he runs the Camping World Truck Series UNOH 175 (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM) at New Hampshire Motor Speedway before heading to Kentucky Speedway for the XFINITY Series VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM). FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule