Josh Berry is one of the most prominent names in Late Model racing in the Southeast. When Berry shows up to a track everyone knows that the battle for the win just got a lot tougher. This year, Berry proved why he’s so tough to beat by winning his first CARS Late Model Stock Tour championship, but he said it wouldn’t be possible without the power house of a team that he has behind him.
In 2011, Josh Berry found himself behind the wheel of a late model owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr at JR Motorsports. Seven years later the team and the driver have gone on to tally over 40 wins, two separate track championships, and now a touring late model stock championship title.
“Dale (Earnhardt Jr.), and LW Miller, and Kelly (Earnhardt) have been so supportive of me and LW and Kelly come to a lot of our races. They love short track racing and they love being a part of it and having a team and so I think over the last few years we have established ourselves as one of the better teams out there,” Berry told Speed51.com powered by JEGS.
Last season, Berry ran full time in the CARS Tour LMSC but came home short of the drivers championship after missing the second Orange County Speedway (NC) race to go and run in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Iowa Speedway. Berry and his team still managed to claim the owner’s championship that season but went into the 2017 season with their eyes on the bigger prize.
“This year our goal was to win the CARS Tour championship and it felt good to get it done. It has just been a lot of fun to win as many races as we have and compete for championships. “
Berry already had a track championship from Motor Mile Speedway (VA) and Hickory Motor Speedway (NC) but for him, the ultimate goal was to add a touring title to his already extensive LMSC resume.
“It means a lot. I felt that I had that desire to win the driver’s championship after last year and winning in any kind of touring series is big. There are so many great drivers in the series and all the tracks that you go to. It definitely means a lot because the ultimate goal of our teams is to win championships and so to get to add another one is big.”
The chase for the title was a rollercoaster of sorts for Berry and his JRM team as they battled wrecks and blown engines but also at times were able to completely dominate races.
“This season was tough. In 2016, we had an unbelievable amount of success and I feel like we couldn’t do anything wrong. And then this year we started off really strong and by the time we went to Dominion (VA) we really started having some back luck and that really affected our season,” Berry said.
Going into the season finale this past weekend at South Boston Speedway (VA) Berry was trailing 15-year-old rookie Layne Riggs for the title. Berry knew he had everything to lose if the night didn’t go his way, but fortunately for Berry, Riggs had a mechanical failure early on in the feature that put Berry in the title chair at the end of the race.
“We were a good bit behind at that point but we would make up some points here and there by having a good race and then we ended up winning four races but we never fully got back into it. We were always behind so going into the last race and being able to contend was great because we had good cars all season. I just think if things had fallen a different way a time or two we would have been better.”
2017 CARS Tour Champion has a nice ring to it when added to a resume and Josh Berry gets to call himself just that as he moves forward. He couldn’t have done it without the team that stood behind him all season though.
“I am really proud of everyone (at JRM) though. They never gave up and we kept digging and we tried to make up every point that we could and in the end it worked out.”
-By Hannah Newhouse, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent – Twitter: @HannahNewhouse
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com