Josh Berry‘s NASCAR Cup Series debut Sunday at Dover International Speedway wasn’t entirely smooth, but he saw the checkered flag.
The 30-year-old Berry – two years older than Sunday’s winner, Alex Bowman – finished 30th, 12 laps down, in the No. 77 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet.
Just two days before, he was announced as a surprise replacement for Justin Haley in the ride after Haley was held out due to COVID-19 protocols.
Continuing his part-time Xfinity schedule for JR Motorsports, Berry’s result on Saturday netted him the final $100,000 Xfinity Dash 4 Cash bonus of the season. He is scheduled to drive JRM’s No. 8 entry through late June, with Sam Mayer taking over the ride June 27 at Pocono Raceway.
“It’s a special day for me,” Berry said Sunday over his team’s radio during the pace laps. “Appreciate you guys thinking of me. Let’s go and have some fun today, try to run all these laps.”
“Racing on Sundays is good stuff,” spotter Keith Barnwell replied. “Have fun.”
Save for a speeding penalty on pit road during the Stage 1 break, Berry was having a quiet debut until Lap 171 when he scrubbed the Turn 2 wall to bring out the caution.
.@joshberry hits the wall, says they didn't hit that bad, says he didn't expect "that big of a steering box" starting putting more wheel into it, "not sure if that was too hard on the RF but it was definitely faster"
— The Racing Underdogs (@RacingUnderdogs) May 16, 2021
After the incident, Berry settled in and later had 29th-place Quin Houff in his sights during the final laps before time ran out.
“I think the second half was a lot better than the first half,” Berry radioed after the finish. “Wish I had done a better job off the start but just need a little more experience, I think.”
“10-4, you did an awesome job,” replied crew chief Kevin Bellicourt. “Sorry about not giving you the best piece there, but we made it better throughout the day.”
“You got three races in three days,” Barnwell noted. “You go ahead and take tomorrow off, Josh.”