2017 Solid Rock Carriers CARS LMSC Tour champion Josh Berry will make his return to the series for the Old North State Nationals at Greenville-Pickens Speedway from Oct. 24-25 after spending most of his 2020 campaign pursuing a NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series title.
Having amassed 18 victories on the CARS LMSC Tour since making his series debut in 2015, Berry feels confident about his chances to win the prestigious event and is looking forward to battling some familiar opponents for the $30,000 race-winning paycheck.
“I’m excited to be back,” Berry said. “The Old North State Nationals is really becoming a big thing for the CARS Tour and I felt like that we needed to be there for that race.”
Berry decided to focus on the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series national championship following the Race at Ace 150 on June 6, where Berry was turned around by two-time CARS LMSC Tour champion Bobby McCarty while battling for the race lead.
In frustration, Berry piloted his wounded car around the track for several laps until McCarty attempted to lap him and proceeded to turn McCarty into the inside wall with only a handful of laps remaining in the race.
As a result of his actions, Berry was disqualified from the Race at Ace 125 and suspended for one event, but Berry admitted that he was ready to move forward from Ace Speedway and focus on different options with the idea of a second CARS LMSC Tour title now out of the realm of possibility.
“After the incident, we were just trying to assess our damage and finish the race,” Berry said. “We were several laps down and everyone saw what happened. Bobby and I didn’t talk before, we didn’t talk after and I don’t really see us talking going forward.”
Berry did not let the accident at Ace deter his momentum, as he has been one of the most consistent drivers in the Weekly Series in 2020 with 21 victories between Hickory Motor Speedway, Dominion Raceway and Langley Speedway, all of which has helped him build a 32-point lead over Peyton Sellers in the standings.
While Berry was initially unsure of how he would fair in the Weekly Series despite having stellar JR Motorsports equipment on his side, he believes that he has adjusted well to the formats provided by those races and is confident that he can formally wrap up a national championship this weekend.
“There’s a different style of racing when it comes to [the Weekly Series],” Berry said. “The races are a lot shorter and faster, but you also have inverts and a lot of other things going on. Those fields have a lot of competition and there has been a learning curve for me, but I’ve enjoyed it.”
Once Berry finishes competing at Hickory and Southern National Motorsports Park this weekend, he will turn his attention to the Old North State Nationals, where he hopes to improve upon his fourth place finish from last year’s running that took place at Orange County Speedway.
Berry led 61 laps in the 2019 edition of the Old North State Nationals and found himself in a heated battle with Lee Pulliam during the final laps that saw them exchange the lead on multiple occasions. Pulliam ended up muscling Berry out of the groove with nine laps remaining and pulled away to win the race by 1.4 seconds.
With Greenville-Pickens being much flatter than Orange County, Berry is not anticipating a side-by-side, last-lap duel to settle the winner of the Old North State Nationals and believes that equipment conservation and avoiding on-track chaos will decide which driver is sitting in victory lane at the end of the long afternoon.
“I expect a lot more wrecks,” Berry said. “Greenville-Pickens is a one lane track and everyone will be racing right on the bottom. I’ve only ran at Greenville-Pickens a couple of times, so I don’t have a lot of experience, but there just isn’t a whole lot of room to race there. I think that race will be about survival more than anything else.”
Only one year removed from his victory in the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway, Berry knows that it takes speed and luck to bring home a checkered flag in big money Late Model races and hopes that his #8 iRacing/All Things Automotive Chevrolet has both when the Old North State Nationals gets underway next Sunday.
“That $30,000 paycheck would be a pretty good deal for us after the year we’ve had,” Berry said. “We’re excited to get there, but we just have to get the car running good, make the race and just try to stay out of trouble. Whether it’s a 40-lapper at Hickory or the Old North State Nationals, I approach each race with the same mindset, which is to be smart and be there at the end.”
Berry will be on track today at Hickory for the Fall Brawl, which is set to get underway at 6 p.m. He will then make the short trip down to Southern National the following day as he attempts to pad out his Weekly Series points lead.