Berry’s Martinsville victory a big win for the little guys
Patience, persistence and dedication finally paid off for Josh Berry.
Josh Berry celebrates his big Xfinity win at Martinsville. Photo: James Gilbert/Getty Images
By Michael Eubanks
If the name Josh Berry didn’t ring a bell until this past weekend, don’t feel ashamed. He’s still a relatively new face in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series.
But make no mistake, Berry is no stranger to stock car racing. In fact, his victory in Sunday’s Cook Out 250 at Martinsville is the culmination of several years behind the wheel.
In only his 13th Xfinity Series start, the 30-year-old Hendersonville, Tennessee native finally had made his mark on the national stage. Not bad for a short track racer who previously worked as a bank teller to supplement his racing career.
Berry’s Xfinity win Sunday wasn’t the first time he had won at Martinsville. In 2019, he led every lap en route to his victory in the Valleystar Credit Union 300 late model race at the track.
“I have so many people I could thank I could be here until tomorrow morning,” Berry told Fox Sports after climbing out of his winning race car. “Just Dale (Earnhardt Jr.), L.W. (Miller), Kelley (Earnhardt Miller), everybody for believing in me, everyone on this No. 8 team.
“This is for all those (short track) guys. There are a ton of them out there that are like me that have won here and all these great short tracks around here. We can do it. We just need the opportunities.”
Berry is living proof that given the right opportunity, a talented and determined driver can make the most of it. He began his racing career at the age of eight, racing and winning in go karts before moving up to U.S. Legends Cars.
After winning 21 feature victories and the track championship at the famed Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville, Berry caught the attention of Earnhardt Jr., who picked him to drive late models for JR Motorsports. In late models, Berry found plenty of success, winning several races and championships. He also made sporadic starts in the Xfinity Series, his first coming in 2014 at Iowa Speedway.
But it was not until last season that his team owner decided to give Berry more starts at the national level. After Berry won 24 races en route to becoming the 2020 NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series National Champion, Earnhardt decided his driver deserved more races in Xfinity.
“I’m excited to tell you … that we’re committing to put you in the No. 8 Chevrolet for a dozen races in the first half of 2021,” Earnhardt told Berry in a surprise announcement on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio last fall. “You worked hard for this opportunity.”
It’s safe to say the announcement caught Berry off guard.
“I'm honestly speechless," Berry said at the time. "That's the last thing I would have expected. Gosh, that's amazing… For a short-track guy, it’s just amazing to see these opportunities come about.”
It’s safe to say Berry has been able to make the most of his opportunity. His big win this past weekend also likely will potentially lead to accept more exciting opportunities down the road.
Too few of the men and women who race local tracks each weekend will ever be as fortunate as Berry, but at least they’ll know that one of their own had the chance to rise to the top and succeed.
“My dad would say there’s only 40 or so drivers on the Cup Series every week, but there’s thousands of drivers across the country who could be here, and they’ll never get the opportunity,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “They’ll never get their name called. And that’s frustrating to know.
“They don’t have enough cars to give out to as many people that deserve these opportunities, but I’m glad we stuck with this idea that Josh could do it.”
Josh Berry’s remaining 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule:
April 24 at Talladega SuperSpeedway
May 8 at Darlington Raceway
May 15 at Dover International Speedway
May 29 at Charlotte Motor Speedway
June 12 at Texas Motor Speedway
June 19 at Nashville SuperSpeedway