Josh Berry’s Strong Run Earns Him a Top-Five at Darlington

By Seth Eggert, Associate Editor

DARLINGTON, S.C. – Several long runs at Darlington Raceway played into Josh Berry’s strength in the Goodyear 400.

Josh berry scored his first top-five finish of the 2024 nascar cup series season at darlington raceway.
Photo by Jerry Jordan/Kickin’ the Tires.

Despite a fast car in practice, a poor qualifying effort left Berry starting 33rd in the No. 4 Harrison’s Ford Mustang Dark Horse. However, a caution-free first stage played into the Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender’s hands.

Driving a paint scheme that honored his crew chief, Rodney Childers, the Hendersonville, TN native climbed through the field. By the end of Stage 1, Berry was well inside the top-20. However, repeated cautions in the second stage hampered the Stewart-Haas Racing driver’s efforts due to a lack of short-run speed.

“It was awesome, I felt like we had a really good car in practice yesterday, and I just did a bad job in qualifying,” Berry explained. “Honestly, I felt like we lacked a little bit of short run speed. Maybe in practice, and it seemed like after 15 laps we were one of the better cars, and that’s [what] we saw today. Just started too far back, battled all day.

“We nearly got nearly got some stage points there. I think if we had run green in one of those stages, for where we started, I think (it would have been) really impressive and our car was really good. Rodney did a great job, everybody back at Stewart-Haas Racing, and these are the days we knew were coming.” 

The final stage of the 400-mile race brought the NASCAR Cup Series field another long green flag run. Once again that allowed Berry to shine. The 33-year-old climbed into the top-10 before the final caution waved with about 40 laps to go.

Although the short-run was where Berry struggled, the final 33-lap run was just long enough to allow his Ford Performance team to shine. Being able to move around, unlike his competition, Berry moved up to fifth with 15 laps to go. Contact between the leaders with 10 to go raised him up to third. Though he was reeling in race leader Brad Keselowski and second-place Ty Gibbs, there wasn’t enough time for Berry to catch them. He took the checkered flag in third.

“We definitely had one of the best (cars) for sure and honestly yesterday kind of showed that too,” Berry said. “It seemed like after 15 laps our car was really strong. I could move around a little bit more than some people. A lot of people were married to the wall and I just felt like my car could turn down the racetrack and come off of (Turn) 4 really strong and build a run.”

Josh berry scored his first top-five finish of the 2024 nascar cup series season at darlington raceway.
Photo by Jerry Jordan/Kickin’ the Tires.

Due to the poor qualifying effort, Berry didn’t finish inside the top-10 in either of the first two Stages. As a result, he didn’t score any additional stage points.

The third-place finish was Berry’s first top-five of the 2024 season. It was also his second career top-five, the first coming last year while he was substituting for an injured Chase Elliott at Richmond Raceway.

The top-five finish moved Berry up from 23rd to 20th in the points standings. He is 256-points behind leader Kyle Larson and 92 behind the playoff cutline, currently held by fellow Stewart-Haas driver Chase Briscoe.

Next for Berry is the All-Star Open at North Wilkesboro Speedway, a race he won last year while substituting for an injured Alex Bowman. The All-Star Open at North Wilkesboro is scheduled for Sunday, May 19 at 5:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1. The race will also be broadcast on the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.

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