There were two cautions during the 55-minute session.
The first yellow flag occurred in Turn 1 when Nicholas Hammann in the No. 74 spun and made contact with the tire barrier. The second caution flew a few minutes later when Kenny Habul came to a stop in the ‘Bus Stop’ with a flat right front tire.
That person was Kenny Habul. Habul is the founder and CEO of the solar energy company that will sponsor JR Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet in five races in 2016, two of them with Berry behind the wheel. Habul, who sponsored and competed in Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 in 2015 in three races, will do the same this year.
Berry made his Xfinity Series debut at Richmond in what Earnhardt called a “hail mary” move of placing the late-model driver in the No. 88. A native of Hendersonville, Tennessee, Berry got people’s attention by starting fifth and finishing seventh.
Now the 25-year-old driver will get two more chances in the Xfinity Series, on July 30 at Iowa Speedway and Sept. 24 at Kentucky Speedway.
“When I first came to JR Motorsports, I never dreamed I’d get the chance to race in the Xfinity Series,” said Berry in a team press release. “It’s through a lot of hard work by numerous people that I have opportunities like this, especially Dale and Kelley (Earnhardt Miller). I can’t wait to get on the track and see what we can do with the SunEnergy1 Chevrolet.”
Berry has earned two track championships for JR Motorsports late-model team and won 10 races in 2015.
Habul, a native of Etobicoke, Ontario, will compete at Watkins Glen International (Aug. 6), Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (Aug. 13) and Road America (Aug. 27). He has 12 Xfinity Series starts over the last four years, making three starts each season.
“We’re happy to welcome Kenny and SunEnergy1 to JR Motorsports,” said Kelley Earnhardt Miller, general manager of JRM. “Kenny has a contagious passion for road racing. I know he’ll be a great asset for the team during these events. This is also another great opportunity for Josh. I think everyone saw what he is capable of at Richmond last year. These two races will help showcase his talents even further.”
Ben Rhodes was fastest in the first of two Xfinity Series practice sessions Friday at Road America.
Rhodes set the pace with a speed of 108.500 mph over the four-plus mile road course in central Wisconsin.
Defending Xfinity Series champion Chase Elliott was second-fastest at 108.133 mph, followed by Ryan Blaney (108.040), Justin Marks (107.948) and Brian Scott (107.947).
The second session will kick off at 4:30 pm ET and run to 5:55 pm ET.
A number of cars spun out during the practice session, including Kenny Habul and Derek White, who was stuck in a gravel pit and had to be towed out. His car suffered right side body damage.
Also of note, an unusual circumstance occurred when Stanton Barrett couldn’t get his race car out of the hauler. The motor for the liftgate was unable to get power to bring the car out.
The liftgate jammed about halfway up and the team was unable to get the car out of the hauler on time to get on the track. It’s unclear if the team will be able to get out on track for the second practice session.