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Analysis: Josh Berry Has Earned the Right to Stay Full-Time in the Cup Series

Josh Berry 2025 Wood Brothers Racing Analysis Is Josh Berry a good driver? Why did the Wood Brothers pick Josh Berry?

Photo Credit: Nigel Kinrade, NKP for Ford Performance

Heading into the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season, many were unsure how Josh Berry would perform. I know I was one of them. The 33-year-old was a bit long in the tooth for a rookie by modern-day NASCAR Cup Series standards, and he would be heading to a team — Stewart-Haas Racing — which had been a sinking ship over the last few seasons. The latter was the biggest reason to feel worried for him.

Still, he performed admirably in fill-in roles at Hendrick Motorsports when Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman suffered injuries in 2023, and he would have one of the smartest crew chiefs in the game calling the shots for him in Rodney Childers, so there was a chance that Berry could contend out of the box.

But, I don’t think anyone expected the results that Berry has achieved so far this season.

RELATED: Josh Berry Joins Historic Wood Brothers Racing Team for 2025 Cup Campaign

Despite five DNFs over the opening 19 races of the season, Berry finds himself 19th in the championship standings thanks to the driver churning out a pair of third-place finishes to go along with two more top-10s, four more top-15s, and two more top-20s. Berry has also found his rhythm in qualifying as well, as he currently sits on a three-race top-10 starting position streak, including a third-place effort at Iowa, and second-place qualifying effort at Nashville.

What the driver has done this season in his rookie campaign solidified his footing in the NASCAR Cup Series. And when Stewart-Haas Racing announced in May that the team would be closing its doors at season’s end, it started to become clearer and clearer over the last couple of months that Berry not only earned his right to remain in the NASCAR Cup Series, he became one of the top free agent choices.

For Wood Brothers Racing, the team that snatched him up, Berry was, “The obvious choice,” team co-owner Jon Wood said at the team’s announcement on Wednesday at the Ford Performance Center. And Berry is exactly that.

Berry brings the legendary race team, which is in desperate need of a shakeup performance-wise, a known commodity. The team, which sits at 99 all-time wins, a mark its been trying to advance from since the 2017 season, gets a driver that seemigly is able to will his race cars to better finishes than people expect him to be able to get. And more importantly, he’s a driver that has shown a penchant for good results in the NASCAR NextGen car, something that Harrison Burton, the current driver of the No. 21 car, can’t say at the moment.

Burton has continually struggled throughout his three-year stint behind the wheel of the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford. The driver’s average finish has actually worsened with each passing season, and 2024 is shaping up to be his worst season yet with the organization. While Burton showed in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, where he won four races, that he is a talented prospect, a change had to be made.

While I feel the Wood Brothers Racing team did miss out on not locking up Childers to go along with Berry (both had indicated recently that they had a desire to remain together if it made sense), they will now have a true baramoeter of how their NASCAR Cup Series program is running beginning with the 2025 season. And for Berry, the long journey of grinding it out at the local level in hopes of finding an opportunity in the NASCAR National Series ranks has been completely realized to the point that he was one of the top free agent drivers in the pool heading into the 2025 season.

It’s a hell of a story, and Berry’s performances when the chips were on the table have afforded him the opportunity to turn racing at the NASCAR Cup Series level from a longshot dream to now being his actual full-fledged career.

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