Josh Berry earned his second Bobby Isaac Memorial victory, beating out teammate Anthony Alfredo and Justin Carroll for the win at Hickory Motor Speedway (NC) Saturday night.
Berry, the 2014 Bobby Isaac Memorial winner took the lead from Carroll on a lap 101 restart. Despite two cautions in the final 50 laps that allowed the field to close on him, Berry held off all comers to pick up the win.
For Berry, who started third in the 20-car field, patience was crucial in the first 100 laps of the 150-lap race.
The pivotal moment for the 2014 Hickory track champion came following a lap 94 caution as Annabeth Barnes-Crum suffered a flat tire. Berry lined up second, to the outside of Carroll. Berry outdueled Carroll on the restart to take the lead entering the closing stages of the race.
“On that restart on lap 100, I lined up outside of Justin and just got a good run,” Berry said. “After that, I lined up on the outside on the restarts and stick with what got us there. I was able to build a little bit of a gap on hold on from there.”
Anthony Alfredo finished second to his JR Motorsports teammate in the race, giving Alfredo positive vibes for the race. While he didn’t feel he had a strong enough car to compete with Berry for the victory on this evening, he knew both JR Motorsports cars were capable of winning.
“I feel pretty good about it. It’s great to have a 1-2 run for JR Motorsports and to run well here at Hickory,” Alfredo said. “We had some bad luck when we came here last time for a local show, so it was good to have a strong run. We were a little free and the car got worse. I don’t know what we had for Josh, but it was a good night.”
After leading 14 laps, Justin Carroll finished third in the Isaac Memorial. Carroll had won the CARS Late Model Stock Tour Throwback 276 earlier this summer but found his car too tight to compete for a win this evening.
“We were just too tight,” Carroll said. “Honestly, we were too tight from the green flag. The spotter came over the radio and said Josh and [Alfredo] were riding. I was trying to save as much as I could, but it didn’t matter too much. That’s just racing.”
Berry feels he is picking up momentum entering “big-race” season in the Late Model Stock Car world. With marquee events such as the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway looming on the horizon, wins such as last week’s CARS Tour win at Concord and tonight give Berry positivity entering the fall.
“We had a lot of speed at the beginning of the year,” Berry said. “We had some bad luck. Towards the middle of the year, we lost some speed. We had some solid finishes, but not wins. We were able to bounce back at Concord last week and win, and get the win tonight.”
“Now we’ve got Martinsville coming up. That’s a place I’ve run well but don’t have the finishes to show for it. Hopefully, this year will be different.”
Ty Gibbs started on the pole for the event, a 14-year-old leading the field to the green flag for the 41st annual running of this event. Gibbs led the first 84 laps of the event before finishing fifth in a field that featured local stars such as Berry and Alfredo as well as former national champions Lee Pulliam and Philip Morris.
“It’s pretty cool, running with the best guys out there,” said Gibbs. “Josh, Lee, they’re just the best guys. We got a lot of experience tonight, that’s what I’m looking for, just to help me out and get seat time.”
Carroll also took plenty of pleasure in scoring a strong run against a stout field. His third-place finish was not enough for the Bobby Isaac Memorial trophy, but it placed him ahead of Pulliam (seventh) and Morris (11th).
“Josh and Anthony are really good here, and this is their home track. Three hometown locals beat the big guys, that’s really cool. I just wish we could have been two better.”
On-demand Trackside Now coverage of Saturday’s Bobby Isaac Memorial can be seen by clicking here.
-By Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
Bobby Isaac Memorial Unofficial Results
Hickory Motor Speedway (NC) – September 2, 2017