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Josh Berry Falls Just Short of Top-10 After Strong Showing at Richmond

Photo Credit: Tyson Gifford, TobyChristie.com

From a race-winning car to a heated conversation off-track, Josh Berry had a night to remember at Richmond Raceway.

Who could forget last year’s spring Richmond event, where Hendrick Motorsports swept the top three positions. Sitting in that second spot was Josh Berry, filling in for an injured Chase Elliott. Though Berry is now with the No. 4, his confidence at the short tracks is unchanged, especially considering the strength of Stewart-Haas Racing at Bristol.

“I feel like our short track program is strong and we proved that at Bristol,” Berry said on Saturday. “I think that we have a solid foundation there to build off of. We led laps there and ran up front. That was before all the tire chaos even if it really knew what was coming ahead. So yeah, that was a great experience and confidence boost, and like I said we’re excited to race [Sunday] and in Martinsville next week, too.”

Richmond is another track where managing your tires is essential. The struggle with tire management this weekend is not due to a softer tire compound, but is due to the abrasive track. Even then, this seems to be a track where Berry excels.

“This place has just come more naturally for me. For whatever reason, I think it’s just due to my background and a lot of people say that you hear the older guys talk about that, that sort of thing and just how you have to drive the car and manage it throughout the race, I think is is important,” added Berry. “And, you know, there’s gonna be a lot to go on tomorrow. So we just got to stay after it and hopefully we come up with a good strategy and get some track position and I think we’ll be fine.”

Strategy would be key on Sunday as damp conditions forced the NASCAR Cup Series drivers to start the Toyota Owners 400 with wet weather tires.

Knowing the product that Richmond Raceway has produced over the past so many years, gaining track position would be no easy task. Unfortunately for Berry, a qualifying time of 22.574 set him towards the back of the field to start the race.

However, starting the Toyota Owners 400 on the wet weather tires allowed several drivers to capitalize on the chaos and move forward. These tires allowed drivers to run any lane they desired, which allowed the Hendersonville, Tennessee-native to grab positions one by one. By the competition caution, Berry had driven from 30th to 15th.

When the race went back green 17 laps later, the No. 4 continued to slice his way through the pack before driving into the left rear of Daniel Suárez, spinning the No. 99 and forcing the first caution of the evening for cause, which ended the race’s first stage. Luckily, neither driver sustained significant damage and continued on with their races.

After the race, the two drivers exchanged heated words near Berry’s Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang.

Berry spent the vast majority of the evening running inside the top five and top-10, but a 16-second stop on pit road and driver error to follow, lost them critical spots on the racetrack, which resulted in an 11th-place finish. Though it was not the result he was looking for, he did gain five spots in the points standings.

“It was just little things,” Berry said after the race. “We lost a little track position and got stuck in the back half of the top-10, but, all in all, it was a really good night. We have a lot to be proud of. It was a good points night and we’ll go to Martinsville.”

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