Late Model star Josh Berry continued his winning ways on Saturday with his first-career Super Late Model win in the PRA Tours race at Hickory Motor Speedway as part of the North-South Shootout. Though, the win did not come without its fair share of challenges.
The Tennessee-born driver started outside the front row for the 150-lap event, but would fall behind early after a mechanical issue left him unable to shift on a lap two restart. Berry rode the first 55 laps off the pace, nearly falling two laps down before a red flag was thrown for a funeral taking place next to the speedway.
After getting the free pass, Berry made quick work of the field. He would pass Brandon Setzer and Tate Fogleman in one fell swoop on the outside to take the lead shortly after halfway, going untouched for the remainder of the race.
“On that restart I went through the gears and I don’t know if it was user error or what, but it didn’t go in gear. By the time I got it in gear through the center of one and two it was hung in third and I couldn’t get out,” Berry said on the Speed51.com broadcast. “We looked like fools beating off the chip around here.”
The Valleystar Credit Union 300 winner at Martinsville Speedway never wavered while the mechanical issues took place, though he admitted he was nervous. After it was resolved, it was about getting the DLP Motorsports No. 57 to the front.
“We never got too wound up when it happened, we were just trying to figure out if we could fix it and if we could fix it under the caution. Thankfully the caution fell right before I went a second lap down and I was able to get the free pass,” he said. “Tom Buzze went under there and fixed our transmission for us and got it back going after that and we were fine. It was definitely nerve-racking.
“We took back off and I was kind of able to maneuver right there,” he added. “When I got to third there right behind Tate (Fogleman) and Brandon (Setzer), I felt like it was going to be one of those races where I felt best to be out front so we tried to catch them off guard and get out front, and then just sail it home from there.”
Nolan Pope made a late-race charge through the field to come home with his second-straight PRA Tours runner-up finish at the North Carolina .363 mile. Starting eighth, he pulled a strategy opposite of Berry, staying further back in the field before making his run toward the front.
“We saved tires at the beginning and I feel like that really paid off. I didn’t want to go as fast as they were at the beginning, so I kind of rode and bide my time, it paid off in the end,” Pope said. “I wish we could’ve seen what we had for Berry, but all in all it was a good day. Lee Faulk Racing brought another great car, it’s two second-place finishes since we’ve been here, so I’m happy.”
Brandon Setzer finished third after flying in from ISM Raceway overnight and starting shotgun on the field. Polesitter Tate Fogleman and Connecticut racer Cory Casagrande rounded out the top five.
The final race of the PRA Tours Super Late Models season will take place at Southern National Motorsports Park in North Carolina on Sunday, December 1 as part of the Thanksgiving Classic.
PRA Tours – North-South Shootout Results:
1. Josh Berry
2. Nolan Pope
3. Brandon Setzer
4. Tate Fogleman
5. Cory Casagrande
6. Josh Reeves
7. Brandon Johnson
8. Kodie Conner
9. Bronson Butcher
10. Carson Kvapil
11. Tyler Church
12. Toby Grynewicz
13. Lee Tissot
14. Wes Burton
15. Darren Shaw
16. Brandon Ward
17. Nicholas Naugle
18. Eric Nash
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN/MI) – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com