Race Weekend Central

Josh Berry Discusses NASCAR Journey, Late-Model Pipeline & Breakout 2021 Season

Josh Berry‘s first NASCAR Xfinity Series start came in 2014, where he recorded a solid, but innocuous top-15 result in his debut at Iowa Speedway.

Flash forward eight years: he’s a three-time race winner and Xfinity’s most recent victor, scoring a triumph at Dover Motor Speedway on Saturday (April 30) while leading 55 laps and holding off JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier.

The late model veteran and occasional Xfinity starter has successfully followed up his stock car splash in 2021, winning a pair of races in very different circumstances. His maiden NXS win came in his regular part-time No. 8 JRM ride at Martinsville Speedway in April, where he had already led tons of laps logged in late models. The second was at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in September, when he filled in for an injured Michael Annett and won in the team’s No. 1 machine.

Frontstretch caught up with Berry at Richmond Raceway in early April about working his way up through the ranks of NASCAR and securing a full-time ride with JRM in 2022.

Adam Cheek, Frontstretch: Your third career Xfinity start was at Richmond, and you finished seventh with JR Motorsports in 2015. What was that first time in a NASCAR race at Richmond like, and how was it running that well your first time out?

Josh Berry: I remember that night really well. We had a really good car and raced really well and really should have finished better than we did. I think, ever since then, [I’ve] really been excited to come back here with JRM, and glad I finally got to do it.

See also
Xfinity Breakdown: Slippin' and Slidin' at the Monster Mile

Cheek: You bounced around teams a bit in this division: JR Motorsports, Obaika Racing, NextGen Motorsports, Jordan Anderson Racing. You’re back full time with Dale Earnhardt Jr., so how did that relationship between you and Junior begin and evolve?

Berry: I’ve been with JR Motorsports that whole time, obviously, with their late model program and then just took the right opportunity to get me back here. Really, really thankful for Dale and Kelley [Earnhardt Miller], everybody back at JRM for believing in me and working hard to give me an opportunity. Thankfully, we were finally able to do that last year [and] won a couple races.

Cheek: You hopped in the No. 1 for JRM last year at Vegas and, boom, you win your second career race. Did Michael Annett give you any pointers on how that car usually drives going in, being a last-minute deal?

Berry: We all communicated each and every week post-race, so we know at JRM [that] we have four good teams. So it was a pretty seamless transition for us, and their cars are really good, and that’s my team this year. So I’ve enjoyed working with them, I really enjoy that. I think we’re still learning about each other, but we’ve had a good start to the year.

Cheek: With those early starts for JRM, do you think you’d be here with them now if not for the attention that night in Richmond and early on?

Berry: I don’t know. I remember that Richmond race very well, and we all wanted so badly to have opportunity come out of that night, [but] it just never materialized. And when I went back to short-track racing for a number of years, [I] won a lot of races and accomplished a lot of amazing things for that program. It just took me longer to get back here than I would have thought. I really didn’t think I would ever really get another opportunity here, so I’m just thankful for that and just really trying to enjoy it and learn as much as I can.

See also
Ryan Preece Gets 'Breath of Fresh Air' Thanks to Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas

Cheek: We talked to Ryan Preece about this earlier, about the pipeline from modifieds and late models to NASCAR not being as prevalent as it used to be. How have you seen it evolve in the years since you got that first Xfinity opportunity?

Berry: I think it’s just constantly changing, I think everyone’s career is different. Everybody goes through different paths. That’s a great example — I mean, Ryan having a modified background. One question I get asked a lot, and I think people don’t realize people ask me all the time, [is] “Well, why didn’t you run ARCA [Menards Series], why didn’t you run [other series]?”

Well, I had no opportunity to run either one. That’s why I didn’t. I raced late models, and that was my opportunity, and I think Ryan’s similar, right? He raced modifieds because that was his opportunity. It doesn’t mean that we aren’t capable, we just don’t have the opportunities. Like I said, it’s a little different for everybody. But I’m thankful that the path that got me here, I think, prepared me, and I think it’s proven that.

Follow @adamncheek

About the author

Adam Cheek joined Frontstretch as a contributing writer in January 2019. A 2020 graduate of VCU, he works as a producer and talent for Audacy Richmond's radio stations. In addition to motorsports journalism, Adam also covered and broadcasted numerous VCU athletics for the campus newspaper and radio station during his four years there. He's been a racing fan since the age of three, inheriting the passion from his grandfather, who raced in amateur events up and down the East Coast in the 1950s.

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Nah. I would bet a decent amount of money that combined between the three of them, Gibbs, Gragson, and Allmendinger will win half the races left on the schedule. Besides that, I see Berry maybe winning a few times. The only new winners I think we get would be Allgaier and Hemric. Cassill, Mayer, and Sieg might get close but I just don’t think they’re as good as the guys above.

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