HICKORY, N.C. — Josh Berry’s life has turned upside down, but in the best way possible.
Berry is one of the most talked about competitors in NASCAR this year based on his impressive performances in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, which includes a victory for JR Motorsports at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
Splitting time between JR Motorsports and Jordan Anderson Racing, the native of Hendersonville, Tenn., has racked up four top-five and nine top-10 finishes in Xfinity Series competition.
He also made his NASCAR Cup Series debut, a last-minute call-up by Spire Motorsports when Justin Haley was forced to the sidelines due to COVID-19 protocols at Dover (Del.) Int’l Speedway.
More recently Berry has been racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, where he has been driving for the Rackley W.A.R. team on a race-by-race basis. He has one top-10 with the team, which came in his first race with the group at Texas Motor Speedway on June 12.
“I think a whirlwind would be a good way to describe it,” Berry said Saturday night at Hickory Motor Speedway. “The Xfinity opportunity really exceeded my expectations. I think going into it I thought we would have some good runs. We know going to a place like Martinsville would be a great opportunity for us, but to win that was really kind of life changing for me really. I think it really opened a lot of eyes.
“We went and backed that up several weeks in a row at Dover, Darlington, Nashville, a couple places and had some really good runs.”
Going into the season the deal with JR Motorsports was never for more than half the schedule, at which point rookie Sam Mayer was scheduled to take over the No. 8 Chevrolet.
However, his win at Martinsville and subsequent strong runs helped land him the deal to run a few events for Jordan Anderson Racing as well as the aforementioned deal with Rackley W.A.R. He’s run three races for the Jordan Anderson Racing team, finishing in the top 10 twice.
Despite his growing popularity in the NASCAR garage, Berry said he has been focused on making sure he honored his commitments to the JR Motorsports late model program. He returned to late model racing the last two weeks, winning the Hampton Heat 200 at Langley Speedway in Langley, Va., and the late model stock car portion of Saturday’s Throwback 276 at Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
On both a personal and professional level, Berry said fulfilling his obligations to the late model program is extremely important to him.
“Honestly, it’s been tough. It’s been week-to-week really trying to figure out how to go week-to-week,” Berry said. “This late model program is an important part…it’s important to JR Motorsports but it’s important to me, too, personally. I’ve been doing this a long time and I want to fulfill my obligations with them. I don’t want anybody to feel like I turned my back on this program running these other opportunities.”
Berry said he plans to run eight to nine more late model races for JR Motorsports this season. He confirmed he’ll be back with the Rackley W.A.R. team at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) Int’l next weekend, but since that deal is on a race-by-race basis, his schedule remains influx.
“I’m going to be running the Rackley W.A.R. truck at Watkins Glen next week. We’ve been kind of taking that deal week-to-week, just seeing how it’s going,” Berry said. “We’ve had some success and their program is turning around a little bit. We’ve had some good runs.
“I’d like to run that the rest of the season. I don’t know if that’s going be possible with them. That’s really up to them. In the meantime, we’ll just see what other opportunities come about.”
While nothing is signed, Berry said he feels good about putting a program together to race somewhere in NASCAR next season. With what team and in what series are two questions that remain unanswered.
“It’s important to me the second half of the year to run this car a good bid and see what the future holds for ’22,” Berry said. “I feel good about having some opportunities in the Xfinity or Truck Series, it’s just going to be a matter of time and getting everything figured out and see what happens going forward.”
One event that is up in the air on Berry’s schedule is the annual ValleyStar Credit Union 300 late model stock car race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. That event conflicts with the Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway NASCAR weekend, but Berry said if he doesn’t have any deals lined up to race in Las Vegas to expect him at Martinsville.
“There is a conflict with Las Vegas there. That’s kind of still up in the air,” Berry said. “Obviously if it is available and I’m not at Vegas, I’m going to be at Martinsville for sure. It’s important for me to take the opportunities that I can get in these bigger cars, especially at the mile and a halfs.
“That’s a huge step for me. I’ve kind of proven some of the short tracks and different tracks that I can get around pretty good. The mile and a halfs are a big step and I think for us going forward it’s important for me to get a lot of experience there.”