2014 will be a season that Josh Berry will never forget.
Berry swept away the competition in the Fall Brawl, the season’s final event at Hickory Motor Speedway in Hickory, NC. The 2014 track champion won the pole and the 150-lap race to become only the second driver in the past 14 years to win the Fall Brawl and the Bobby Isaac Memorial, Hickory’s two premier Late Model races, in the same season.
To make things even better, Berry won the race for JR Motorsports with the boss, NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr., in the house for the win.
“I really can’t put into words the season that we’ve had,” said Berry after the win. “I have to give so much credit to my team. We have had such great race cars. This is a brand new Jay Hedgecock car and we’ve won two races in a row with it.”
Berry took the same ride to victory lane last week at Myrtle Beach Speedway (SC) in preparation for the big season ending show there.
The night was not as easy as it looked on paper. Berry sat on the pole, but the strategy was to save tires after the team felt they were barely hanging on for the win at the Bobby Isaac a race in which Berry led all 150 laps.
“It was hard to give up the lead,” said Berry. “I didn’t want to put myself in a situation where we could have gotten wrecked. On one restart they all started bouncing off the wall and I said, ‘That’s it,’ and I took the lead and held it from there.”
After several lead changes, Berry took the top spot on lap 88 and never let go after that. A few late restarts turned out to play into the team’s strategy. What Berry was able to save was good enough to the end.
“I knew they were gunning for me tonight after the year we’ve had,” said Berry. “The boss man didn’t put any pressure on me tonight. He was just happy to be here and see us race. I’m glad we could share that moment in victory lane. I have raced for JRM for five years and that was our first win together.”
Dale Jr. took part in the victory lane ceremonies and took pictures with a few lucky fans as he watched his cars finish first and fourth with William Byron. Overall, JR Motorsports cars took home 11 wins this season at Hickory.
“It’s really cool to see a victory in person,” Earnhardt told Speed51.com. “We put a lot of effort into our program so it’s awesome to be in victory lane for a win.”
Earnhardt, Jr. also mentioned that he’d never seen one of his Late Models win a race. Most of the time his NASCAR schedule has him watching from afar. Tonight, he got to be front and center.
Payton Ryan finished second, David Garbo, Jr., Byron and Coleman Pressley rounded out the top five.
By Elgin Traylor, Operations Manager for Speed51.com