Herb Makes Name For Himself
May 16, 2001 | 12:00 A.M. EST
“This is another step in my career that puts a stamp on my ticket that I have arrived," said Herb, driver of the Tri Star Motorsports No. 20 Dallara-Aurora. "I believed I'd make it, or I wouldn't be here. I expect to drive (in the race) to the best of my ability, not get impatient and not make any mistakes. I've made mistakes in the past, but I get better every year.
"I deserve to be here."
Herb qualified at 222.015 mph on Pole Day, putting him comfortably in his first Indy 500. He’ll start the race ahead of fellow rookies Felipe Giaffone, who is leading the Indy Racing Northern Light Series rookie standings, Bruno Junqueira and Nicolas Minassian and even ahead of veterans Michael Andretti, Al Unser Jr. and Eddie Cheever Jr.
"I feel great about our run," Herb said. "Our plans were the same as theirs, but we did the better job today. When the time came to do the job, I did it.
“It's another day at the track for me, and I did what I was supposed to do.”
Herb has just three starts in the IRNLS, with a best finish of 16th at Atlanta on April 28. He passed his rookie test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Easter weekend in April with the fifth fastest top speed of the 10 drivers who participated in the two-day program.
Before he reached the pinnacle of open-wheel auto racing, however, 26-year-old Herb meandered his way through several forms of motorsports.
Last season he spent the majority of the year competing in ARCA after starting the first race of the IRNLS season at Walt Disney World Speedway. He finished the ARCA season 14th in the points standings despite missing three races.
“I was always competitive,” Herb said.
Herb also spent time in the USAC Midget Car Series, SCCA and Formula 2000 in Canada. But his first time in a race car came just six years ago at the Skip Barber School. He was immediately successful, winning one of the three races he entered. After playing football for Southern Methodist University and appearing in more than a dozen motion pictures and television shows, including “Natural Born Killers” and “The Untouchables,” Herb had found his calling.
His racing break came in 1999, when he passed his IRNLS rookie test with Tri Star. Then, Jonathan Byrd offered Herb his first ride at Walt Disney World last season.
Herb also kept in touch with Tri Star last season, which eventually paid off with this season’s deal.
“I'm satisfied with where we came from,” Herb said. “I had about 100 laps coming into this deal, and maybe 80 laps at rookie orientation, so I'm proud of the job we did with what we had."
If he can keep performing at this level, Herb will have so much more to be proud of.