From the time that Jordan Anderson Racing announced their intentions to run full-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2021, to Josh Berry scoring the team’s third top-10 in three starts on Saturday, there have been a lot of things that have drastically changed.
First and foremost, Saturday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course marked the 13th event of the 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Series season, so how could this possibly be the third race for Jordan Anderson Racing, a team that announced they would be running the full campaign?
Well…. Mother Nature played a large role in this, essentially derailing the team’s plans for the year before it even started, when qualifying for the Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner 300 at Daytona International Speedway was cancelled, sending teams with no previous attempts or owner points packing. Anderson’s options were limited to purchasing owner points to run his No. 31 Chevrolet Camaro, or waiting until practice and qualifying returned to the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Circuit of The Americas in May.
Jordan Anderson Racing did the latter… and that’s where the second major change comes in.
Anderson was scheduled to play team owner and driver, while running for Rookie of The Year against Ty Gibbs, Josh Berry, Sam Mayer, Ryan Vargas and Jade Buford. However, with the large points deficit to 40th-place in Owner Points, it was clear that Anderson needed to call in reinforcements to ensure the team’s season could be salvaged.
Enter two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series Champion and NASCAR Cup Series full-time driver Tyler Reddick, who worked a deal with JAR to pilot the No. 31 Bommarito Automotive Group Chevrolet Silverado at Circuit of The Americas, Charlotte and Nashville. As COTA rolled around, Reddick would have two races to make up 53 points, a tall task for any driver or organization, much less one that had never hit the track prior to the first practice session.
Reddick went third in practice and qualified fifth-place, which flipped the team’s entire objective from surviving, to attempting to collect stage points and further close the hefty gap between themselves and 40th in Owner Points. Arthur Haire played strategy to finish second in stae one, meaning the team netted 37 points on the day, with an eighth-place finish and nine stage points.
The following weekend at Charlotte, wasn’t as attention-grabbing as Circuit of The Americas. Reddick was scored 11th in practice and earned a 16th-place starting spot, which was the position that many expected the organization to slot into. However, nobody expected Reddick to score a fifth-place finish and certainly nobody expected that top-five finish to still not be enough.
Chad Finchum’s top-15 was enough to keep the No. 13 inside the top-40 in Owner Points, holding a 10-point margin over the No. 31 after Charlotte. However, none of that really mattered in the grand scheme of things, as Anderson decided to have Josh Berry pilot the No. 31 at Mid-Ohio, ensuring the car would be locked into the event, through Berry’s win at Martinsville with JR Motorsports.
When looking at the decision, the fact that it allowed the No. 31 to race at Mid-Ohio and gain points on 40th-place is an extremely smart move. As you think about it more, Berry has limited experience in the Xfinity Series to begin with, throw in the fact that he’s never run a road course race before and you have a risky decision for a team that has a points threshold to meet.
Truth be told, Saturday wasn’t perfect for Berry and JAR. The 30-year-old earned the 31st starting position, which meant the Martinsville winner had a lot of group to make up to get a solid result. In typical road course fashion, off-track excursions were part of Berry’s inaugural road course experience.
Quite possibly the most pivotal part of Berry’s race came on lap 36, when the Hendersonville, Tennessee-native spun off course between turn eight and nine, but was able to keep his Bommarito Automotive Group Chevrolet Camaro out of the gravel trap, keeping him on the lead-lap and in the running for a good result. Honorable mention of course goes to Berry’s insane manuever at the end of the race, which saved his car – and about four others — from being totaled.
— Xfinity Racing (@XfinityRacing) June 5, 2021
Berry was able to sift through the chaos of mess of the final ten laps of the race to come home in eighth-place, picking up the third straight top-10 for Jordan Anderson Racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. To start your presence in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with three straight top-10 finishes is almost unheard of, with elite teams like Joe Gibbs Racing, Team Penske and JR Motorsports unable to meet the mark.
However, it has happened at least once before, when Roush Fenway Racing scored three top-10 finishes in their first three starts with Mark Martin during the 1992 NASCAR Busch Grand National Series season.
With three consecutive top-10 finishes to start their rookie campaign in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Jordan Anderson Racing has been able to claim a spot inside the top-40 in owner points, while building themselves a buffer by closing in on the 38th and 39th-place teams in Owner Points. Expect the No. 31 team to continue clicking off top-15 and top-20 finishes, with the possibility of a couple more top-fives and top-10s hanging in the balance.
When it comes to the team’s driver lineup for the rest of 2021, the door is wide open to a number of combinations, but expect Jordan Anderson to climb behind the wheel of his No. 31 Bommarito Automotive Group Chevrolet Camaro as some point throughout the remainder of the year. Plus, with Chevrolet being a driving force behind Berry’s placement with the team, it’s certainly plausable that he could return for additional races this season.
For Anderson, it’s the resilence and determination that should be celebrated, as the team had to wait four months to even get on the track, without a guarantee that things would even work out for them at COTA, Charlotte, or any other race for that matter. With this incredible start to the team’s existence in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, let me assure you, Jordan Anderson Racing has earned their spot among the 40 weekly starters in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.