Josh Berry honored one of the instrumental figures in his career at JR Motorsports, taking the checkered flag at the CARS Response Energy Late Model Stock Tour’s Throwback 276 at Hickory Motor Speedway (NC).
The second annual event celebrated with historic racing figures with car designs representing former great racers. While many picked out famous NASCAR racers from years gone by, Berry tipped his cap to L.W. Miller, the Director of Motorsports at JR Motorsports.
A former racer in his own right, Berry’s car bore the colors of Miller’s 2007 NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour entry, which claimed the series title that season. On Saturday night in Hickory, Berry took Miller’s No. 73 back to victory lane one more time.
“This is a big win tonight,” Berry said in victory lane. “I told everyone how big of a deal this meant to me. I don’t lead like that normally, so I was worried about that. It looked like Lee [Pulliam] was a tick better at the end.
“We led the whole damn thing,” Berry said. “We came here to win, worked our asses off on this thing, and we brought a great car here tonight and got the win.”
Even though this is just the second running of the Throwback 276, Berry believes the race is already taking a place among the most prestigious events at the “Birthplace of the NASCAR Stars.”
“This is quickly becoming one of the biggest races at Hickory,” Berry said. “I’ve won a lot of races here and this is up at the top.”
However, the most special part for Berry was taking Miller’s car to victory lane.
"When I ran this, he had expectations for us to win and I had that same expectation of myself,” Berry said. “I just had such a great feeling going into this weekend. Things don’t always work out in your favor like that, but tonight they did.”
While Berry took the victory, Lee Pulliam finished second at a track that has hexed him in the past. However, he couldn’t help but feel disappointment coming up short of a victory.
“That’s the most disappointed I’ve been in a while,” Pulliam told Speed51.com. “I’m really excited that we finally had a rocketship here at Hickory. It’s been a place I’ve struggled at. Personally, I’ve put it on myself to be better here. We were good tonight, real good. Qualified eighth and just had to methodically work our way through the field.
“I just wish I had three more laps,” Pulliam added. “We were wearing him out on the long run. He had great short run speed and did a good job getting by [Layne] Riggs. I had to deal with the 77 [of Bobby McCarty], hold the 12 off [Timothy Peters], then pass the 10 [Riggs]. It was just hard racing.”
The only other driver to lead on the evening was Layne Riggs. Riggs started third in a car bearing his father Scott’s Nesquik colors from his NASCAR Busch Series days. Riggs led 27 laps, but knew he did not have a car that could compete for the win.
“We were just too loose all throughout the race,” Riggs said. “Way too loose. We knew we didn’t have a car to win, we were just going to run the best we could and save the rear tires as best we could. By lap 20 it was already fading.
“I went up there, led a few laps, had a lot of fun, “Riggs continued. “Ran hard with some guys. Everyone knew we were here.”
Berry’s victory, surprisingly, snapped a drought of nearly a year without a CARS Tour win. Berry had last won on the CARS Tour on August 26, 2017 at Concord Speedway (NC) as part of his championship run last season.
The CARS Late Model Stock Tour returns to action August 23rd at Wake County Speedway (NC) for a 123-lap feature at the Raleigh, NC facility. This will be the series’ first trip to the quarter-mile bullring.
Race fans who missed the action on Saturday night can view Speed51's Trackside Now updates to catch on the lap-by-lap excitement from Hickory. Click here to view the Trackside Now updates.
-By Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor - Twitter: @ZTEvans
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com
CARS Tour LMSC Throwback 276 Unofficial Results