There is very little that Josh Berry hasn’t accomplished at Hickory Motor Speedway (NC). Name a race held at the track and he’s probably won it. The Bobby Isaac Memorial, Fall Brawl, a CARS Tour feature, it’s all been done. But on Saturday night at Hickory it was a different JR Motorsports driver sweeping the night away.
In race one JR Motorsports driver Josh Berry dominated the event only to see it all go up in smoke, literally. A blown engine with less then 20 laps to go left the 88 team scrambling. Right away the discussion was made to change engines for race two.
With Berry's crew scrambling to swap engines, race one ended with Late Model Stock rookie Anthony Alfredo out-dueling Austin McDaniel in the final few laps to score the win.
“Man we raced hard for that win,” Alfredo said after race one. “I have thank all the guys at JR Motorsports to make this happen. That caution for my teammate helped us out. I feel bad for him because he was strong. I have won some Limited Late Model races, but none in Late Model Stock until now.”
The win by Alfredo marked three straight first-time winners for the CARS Tour Late Model Stock series.
Berry was able to answer the call for race two, but was forced to ride shotgun on the field because he didn’t finish race one and made an engine change.
McDaniel was the story as he dominated again, but Alfredo would sneak past late in the race after the two went back and forth for several laps.
Behind them, with the aid of only one caution, Josh Berry came from 22nd to slip by McDaniel in the final laps to post a second-place finish.
“I would not have believed you if you had told me that we would sweep the features here at Hickory,” Alfredo after race two. “This place has a lot of history and I have wanted to win here for so long. This car was a blast to drive. I used the tires a lot in the first race and I still had grip in race two so hats off to JR Motorsports for such a great car and setup.”
“Not an ideal night, but it’s pretty amazing to salvage a second-place finish in race two after changing the engine after race one,” Berry stated. “I am glad Anthony got the win and we made it a one-two sweep for JR Motorsports. It’s says a lot about our team to make a change like that and not have any problems, or anything go wrong.”
McDaniel was all smiles with the finishes, but he knew he was so close to his first win.
"It should have been our night to win at least one of these race,” McDaniel stated. “We got all but wrecked in the first race (running with Alfredo). I tried to give him a shot in race two and he hung on to it. It wasn’t a bad night, qualified good and ran good. We just didn’t have enough for them at the end.”
Point leader Layne Riggs recored two sixth-place finishes to maintain his lead atop the championshp standings. Deac McCaskill added a pair of top fives to move up to second and the two wins by Anthony Alfredo should put him unofficially into the top five.
Both McCaskill and Alfredo will be locked into the upcoming Short Track U.S. Nationals at Bristol Motor Speedway (TN); McCaskill for last year’s CARS Tour championship and Alfredo for winning the lock in races at Hickory.
Race fans can find on-demand coverage of Saturday's twin CARS Tour Late Model Stock features by visiting Speed51.com's Trackside Now.
-By Elgin Traylor, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent - Twitter: @ElginTraylor
-Photo credit: Speed51.com