Berry holds off late charges to score LeafFilter Replacements win

Photo by SETH EGGERT for KICKIN' THE TIRES / iRacing

By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer

At iRacing’s 2008 ‘Legacy’ scan of Phoenix Raceway, Josh Berry became the first driver to score a second victory in the LeafFilter Replacements. Berry was dominant throughout the 80-lap Street Stock race at the classic track.

“I think everybody deep down just loves Street Stock racing,” said Berry. “These cars on the bigger tracks are just a blast to run. You have a little bit of draft, slide around, bump, and lean on each other pretty easily without having big incidents.”

However, in the closing laps, he had to hold of late charges from Coleman Pressley, TJ Majors, and Ross Chastain. Consecutive cautions hampered Berry’s ability to widen the gap in his No. 73 iRacing/All Things Automotive machine.

On several restarts, Berry had to contend with Pressley on his outside and Majors behind. The JR Motorsports Solid Rock Carriers CARS Late Model Tour driver edged his competition out at the line every lap.

On the final restart, Majors was turned into the infield on the backstretch by Pressley. That left Berry to duel with Kaulig Racing’s Ross Chastain. The No. 10 Nutrien Ag Solutions driver hounded the leader lap after lap. Chastain had the opportunity to pull off the bump and run but preferred to pass Berry cleanly.

However, Berry did all he could to prevent that. In the final corner, he took the line away from Chastain before driving up to the outside wall. His strategy worked, preventing the NASCAR Xfinity Series driver from pulling alongside. Berry took the checkered flag with 0.104 seconds back to Chastain.

“That combo is just so fun on iRacing,” explained Berry. “The draft is a big deal. I was able to get a gap the first couple laps, but I knew Ross was going to get back to my bumper. Knew that he would try to move me in the last corner if he was there.

“I had that planned out in my head a little bit. Luckily, we had such a gap on third place that I was trying to throw him off. I pulled low, lifted a little bit, and messed up his entry. He could have sailed in there and got me, but he went onto the apron and I was able to move up.”

Pressley, Parker Kligerman and spotter Josh Williams rounded out the top-five. Pole sitter Kevin Iannarelli, Justin Haley, Ty Majeski, Tim Dugger, and Justin Allgaier rounded out the top-10.

Berry took the lead from Majeski on a restart with 18 laps to go. The Niece Motorsports driver had stayed on track during the competition caution. The strategy to not pit appeared to work until Majeski went sliding on the restart.

Three newcomers to the LeafFilter Replacements all experienced trouble at one point of the race. Martin Truex Jr. went barrel rolling down the frontstretch after using his only fast repair. ESPN broadcaster Mike Clay was swept up in an early incident. iRacing Executive Vice President Steve Myers had been running the best of the three newcomers in 14th, when damage dropped him down the running order to 23rd.

The LeafFilter Replacements will take a brief hiatus as racing in the real-world returns.

The Finish

1. Josh Berry [4], 2. Ross Chastain [18], 3. Coleman Pressley [3], 4. Parker Kligerman [33], 5. Josh Williams [10], 6. Kevin Iannarelli [1], 7. Justin Haley [5], 8. Ty Majeski [2], 9. Tim Dugger [40], 10. Justin Allgaier [12], 11. Anthony Alfredo [11], 12. Jordan Erickson [20], 13. Ryan Flores [15], 14. Garrett Smithley [34], 15. Regan Smith [27], 16. Mike Clay [26], 17. Todd Gilliland [28], 18. Landon Cassill [8], 19. TJ Majors [36], 20. Dave Vincent [32], 21. Brent Wentz [42], 22. Jonathon Davis [7], 23. Steve Myers [21], 24. Chad Knaus [31], 25. Ron Capps [29], 26. Chris Rice [30], 27. AJ McCarron [38], 28. Harrison Burton [16], 29. Drew Herring [23], 30. Bobby Labonte [17], 31. Kevin Harvick [24], 32. Dale Earnhardt Jr. [35], 33. Taylor Gray [14], 34. Tyler Overstreet [19], 35. Kyle Long [37], 36. Ryan Truex [6], 37. Kevin Hamlin [9], 38. Bryan ‘Boris’ Cook [39], 39. Martin Truex Jr. [13], 40. Kyle Busch [25], 41. Elliott Sadler [22], 42. Tim Clauson [41].

Lead Changes: Five among four drivers.

Lap Leader(s): Kevin Iannarelli 1-4, Josh Berry 5-23, Coleman Pressley 24, Josh Berry 25-41, Ty Majeski 42-61, Josh Berry 62-80.

Laps Led: Josh Berry 55, Ty Majeski 20, Kevin Iannarelli 4, Coleman Pressley 1.

Hard Charger: 31-Tim Dugger (+31)

Cautions: Seven for 32 laps.

Margin of Victory: 0.104 seconds.

Time of Race: 59 minutes, 32.739 seconds.

Average Speed: 80.610 mph.

Pole Winner: 27-Kevin Iannarelli, 32.217 seconds (111.742 mph).

Fastest Lap: 73-Josh Berry, 31.618 seconds (113.859 mph).


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