Josh Berry aims to keep emotions in check, focus on winning


Josh Berry wants to be remembered for winning races, not middle-finger salutes.

But after giving one to Santino Ferrucci after crashing out of last Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Phoenix, the reigning NASCAR Weekly Series national champion became an unwitting social media star.

“Yeah, there’s regrets,” Berry said this week during a media teleconference ahead. “I know that’s not something I should do. I just let emotions get the best of me. … I would not do it again.

“Some people liked it, some people didn’t, but ultimately for me and where I’m at, it’s probably best that I don’t do things like that.”

Berry will run both the Camping World Truck Series and Xfinity Series races at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He’ll drive for Young’s Motorsports in the Truck race, subbing for Kris Wright after Wright tested positive for COVID-19.

Then, Berry will continue his scheduled 12-race Xfinity run with JR Motorsports, where he’s raced in Late Models for over a decade.

Prior to this season, he made select Xfinity starts (mostly for JR Motorsports) from 2014-17. But a lack of funding prevented him from more.

Now, he has the biggest shot of his career – one that could possibly lead him to a full-time NASCAR ride. That means a need to get results.

Berry looked poised for a solid one in Phoenix. He had risen into the top three during the final stage.

But during the caution at Lap 133, he was caught speeding on pit road. He then made a return trip there for a loose wheel.

Off the restart, Berry quickly moved back into the top 15. But on Lap 148, contact with Ferrucci helped send Berry into the Turn 2 wall. Going down the backstretch, Berry suffered a left rear tire failure and spun into the Turn 3 wall.

Berry’s day was done. But not before climbing out of his car and telling Ferrucci, in a way, that he was “number one.” Doubly so.

However, Berry wasn’t so frustrated with the wreck itself as he was with the missed opportunity.

“We had a great car,” he said. “I can’t stress that enough, how good we were. For this group to take a guy straight out of a late model car at Hickory (N.C.), take him to Phoenix which I’ve never seen, run in the top three, have one of the best cars and stand a chance to win the race is incredible.

“That’s where (the frustration) came. The reaction from all that has been mixed, but I know that’s not something I can do. I had my talk with Wayne (Auton, Xfinity Series director) and the guys at NASCAR, and it was straightforward. … As soon as we shut the hauler from Phoenix, we were ready to go to Atlanta.”

Atlanta will be Berry’s fifth start this season in the No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet. So far, it’s been hit or miss – two top-10 finishes, two crashes – with a lot of on-the-job training.

There’s more than just a new car and new tracks. It’s the art of restarts: Picking the right lane and making the right moves once the green flag drops.

Then there’s the little things on pit road: Running the right speed, getting in and out of the stall, and putting the car where it needs to be for his over-the-wall crew.

Berry doesn’t have a full season to learn all of that. He only has a dozen races, and he’s already through four of them.

“In a way, I feel like I’m kind of thrown into it,” he admitted.

But he’s trying not to put extra pressure on himself than there already is from his team, his sponsors, and, perhaps most of all, the short track community he comes from.

He acknowledges “carrying the weight” of those racers in particular. He said he plans to race with them again next weekend in his late model.

And he’s optimistic that he can bring them a trophy from NASCAR’s Xfinity Series before long.

Berry mentioned Martinsville Speedway, where he won in his Late Model in 2019, as a “great shot for us,” but he doesn’t want his team to think it’s their only shot. In his mind, they can win on Saturday, too.

“I believe in this (JR Motorsports) group and they believe in me,” Berry said. “It’s really been a pleasure to work with them and get better each week.

“I think our best days are ahead of us.”

Justin Haley replaces Kyle Busch in Kaulig car for Xfinity race


Justin Haley will drive Kaulig Racing’s No. 10 car in Monday morning’s scheduled NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Haley replaces Cup Series regular Kyle Busch, who was scheduled to drive for Kaulig in the 300-miler. The race was postponed from Saturday to Monday because of weather, giving NASCAR a 900-mile doubleheader at the track.

Busch decided to concentrate on the Coca-Cola 600 Cup race, scheduled for a  3 p.m. start.

Haley also will race in the 600.

Ty Gibbs is scheduled to run in both races.

Charlotte Cup race postponed to Monday by weather


CONCORD, N.C. — All-day rain Sunday forced the postponement of the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Cup Series race to Monday.

The postponement means that Charlotte Motor Speedway is scheduled to host 900 miles of stock car racing Monday. A 300-mile Xfinity Series race, originally scheduled Saturday and first postponed to noon Monday, has been rescheduled for 11 a.m. ET Monday (FS1, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The Cup race is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. (Fox, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Sunday’s Cup race was scheduled to start at 6:21 p.m. ET, but light rain was still falling at that time in the speedway area near Charlotte. Rain intensified a few minutes later and, despite an evening forecast that showed slight improvement, officials decided at 6:30 p.m. to postpone the race.

Monday’s forecast calls for a 34% chance of rain at the start of the Xfinity race and a 30% chance at the start of the Cup race.

William Byron will start the race from the pole after qualifying was washed out Saturday night.

RFK Racing gains sponsorship from submarine recruiting group


CONCORD, N.C. — NASCAR racing and submarines? Yes.

RFK Racing announced Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway that it has entered a partnership with BlueForge Alliance, which is involved in securing workers for the U.S. Navy’s Submarine Industrial Base (SIB) program. will be a primary sponsor for RFK drivers Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher in 10 Cup Series races this year and in 18 races per season beginning in 2024.

The sponsorship will showcase the careers related to the submarine-building program across the nation.

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“I’m proud to support a cause of such vital significance to our country with this new partnership,” Keselowski said. “The synergies between a NASCAR team and our military’s needs to stay on track fast are countless. We hope to inspire the workforce of the next generation across the country when they see RFK race and hear our message.”

The sponsorship will support the mission to recruit, hire, train, develop and retain the SIB workforce that will build the Navy’s next generation of submarines, the team said.

“We are excited and grateful to be teaming with RFK Racing to drive awareness of the thousands of steady, well-paying manufacturing jobs available across the nation. Innovation, working with purpose and service to others are hallmarks of both of our organizations,” said Kiley Wren, BlueForge chief executive. “Together, we aim to inspire NASCAR fans and all Americans to pursue career opportunities that will support our national defense.”

Kyle Larson visits Indianapolis Motor Speedway to survey the scene


Former NASCAR champion Kyle Larson, who is scheduled to run the Indianapolis 500 in 2024 as part of an Indy-Charlotte “double,” visited the Indianapolis Motor Speedway garage area Sunday on Indianapolis 500 race day.

Larson said he wanted to familiarize himself with the Indy race-day landscape before he becomes immersed in the process next year.

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Larson later returned to Charlotte, where was scheduled to drive in the Coca-Cola 600 Sunday night. Next year, he’s scheduled to run both races.

“I love racing,” Larson told NBC Sports. “I love competing in the biggest races. In my opinion, this is the biggest race in the world. I wanted to be a part of it for a long time, and I finally feel like the timing is right. It’s pretty cool to have a dream come true.

“I wanted to come here and kind of experience it again and get to experience how crazy it is again before I’m in the middle of it next year. I kind of want as little surprise as possible next year.”

In the 2024 500, Larson will be one of four drivers with the Arrow McLaren team.

Earlier this month, Larson and Hendrick Motorsports vice chairman Jeff Gordon attended an Indy 500 practice day.

Larson said Sunday he hasn’t tested an Indy car.

“I don’t know exactly when I’ll get in the car,” he said. “I’ve had no sim (simulator) time yet. I’ve kind of stayed back. I didn’t want to ask too many questions and take any focus on what they have going on for these couple of weeks. I’m sure that will pick up after today.

“I look forward to the challenge. No matter how this experience goes, I’m going to come out of it a better race car driver.”