Defending CARS Response Energy Tour champion Josh Berry is set to begin his championship defense when the series heads to Tri-County Motor Speedway on Saturday for the Do The Dew 150.
Berry won the championship in 2017, scoring four wins and nine top-five finishes on the season. He has 12 CARS Late Model Stock Tour victories – more than anybody. However, this weekend, Berry faces the strongest field in CARS Tour history as he looks for win number 13.
“It’s definitely going to be tough,” Berry told Race22.com. “We’ve all seen the entry list. Great cars and great racers. We’re going to have our work cut out for us for sure. Hopefully out experience will pay off. It’s definitely the biggest field they’ve had. There are a lot of great racers there so it’s pretty much just about everybody. It’s going to be competitive. It’s what everybody’s expecting.”
While the field is stacked with names like Lee Pulliam, Timothy Peters, Deac McCaskill, Dexter Canipe, Jr., and Justin Johnson, among others, Berry feels everyone will still be gunning for him. He has won the last two CARS Tour races at Tri-County Motor Speedway and has been the most dominant driver on the tour in its three-year history.
“I think everyone’s gunning for us, so of course we’re going to get a lot of attention and be expected to win and contend,” Berry stated. “Our goal is to be up front. There’s a lot that can happen in these races. You never really know. All you can ask for is to be up front and have a shot at it. This is a different format that we haven’t raced, that’s going to change things. The strategy of that could very well affect the winner. A lot could happen.”
Berry plans to race the full season and defend his championship in the CARS Tour, while also running at a handful of other races. He feels traveling with the tour suits him as a driver and JR Motorsports as an organization.
“It’s less races but at different tracks and I feel like it fits the style of what we do as a company,” Berry explained. “We’ve had a lot of success over the years being competitive and this lets you do that in a series format with points involved. This allows us to run different tracks and that’s our strength. It just seems to benefit us. The CARS Tour has done such a great job with promoting and supporting our series. It gets a lot of attention. You can watch online and that’s a big bonus. It’s been a lot of fun to be a part of.”
The media coverage and the live video broadcast has been integral to the series’ success, and it has also allowed Berry’s car owner, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., to be involved in the tour while he’s been away. While Earnhardt is no longer behind the wheel of a car in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, he will still be traveling with that series later in the year as a commentator for NBC Sports’ coverage of NASCAR, and being able to watch the races allows him to stay connected.
“It’s a huge part of the reason why we run,” Berry elaborated. “That stuff brings a lot of value to us as a company with him and Kelley [Earnhardt Miller] and everybody at JR Motorsports who would not normally see our races. They always produce video highlights as well so you can see what happened. It’s also a value to our partners. We just signed a new partner with All Things Automotive and their owner is excited to watch the races online. The races he can’t come to, he’ll be able to watch and it means something to him and to us. It’s a no-brainer to be a part of the tour with the way they operate. They’re great people who do a great job.”
Berry says his primary focus will be in the CARS Tour, but that he will run a handful of races outside of the tour – most notable the Martinsville Speedway fall classic which has frustrated him in previous attempts.
“Right now, our plan is to run probably about five or six additional races outside the CARS Tour,” Berry said. “Martinsville, Myrtle Beach, Richmond, outside of that, maybe a couple races at Hickory. We’re looking at 18-20 races and most are going to be CARS Tour races.”
Josh Berry’s title defense will begin on Saturday in the Do The Dew 150 at Tri-County Motor Speedway in Hudson, North Carolina. CARSTour.TV will have live video coverage for fans unable to attend the race and Race22.com will be on hand with interactive “RaceDay Live” coverage all day.