Berry Earns Hard-Fought 29th-Place Finish Replacing Injured Elliott at Las Vegas
- After Chase Elliott suffered a fractured tibia in a snowboarding accident on Friday, NASCAR Xfinity Series regular Josh Berry was tapped to fill in as the driver of the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for Sunday’s Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
- In his first start in a Next Gen car, Berry adapted well, climbing from 32nd to 24th to round out stage one. The Hendersonville, Tennessee, native followed that up with a 26th-place finish in stage two before ultimately taking the checkered flag in 29th after battling through an issue with the throttle.
After Chase Elliott suffered a fractured tibia in a snowboarding accident on Friday, NASCAR Xfinity Series regular Josh Berry was tapped to fill in as the driver of the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet for Sunday’s Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Turning his first ever laps in a Next Gen car, Berry qualified in the 32nd position. After the green flag dropped, the 32-year-old took the opening laps to adapt and managed to gain a few positions before green-flag pit stops commenced. Once the field cycle through stops, Berry was scored in 26th. He continued his climb forward, taking the green-and-white checkered flag to end stage one in 24th at the conclusion of lap 80.
During the stage break, Berry radioed to the team that the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevy’s balance was better than it had been on Saturday, but that the car was a little on the tight side. After a pit stop for four tires and fuel, he started stage two from 24th on lap 89 and lost a few spots after making slight contact with the wall. When green-flag pit stops ensued, the team called Berry in for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment on lap 122. Scored in 29th once pit stops cycled through, he reported that the No. 9 was much better. Berry pressed forward as the run went on and was scored in the 26th position to end stage two. Under the caution, he communicated to crew chief Alan Gustafson that the throttle pedal felt sticky. He added that he was struggling in dirty air as he was learning the new car.
Berry took the green flag for the final stage from the 28th position on lap 172 and was scored in 29th when the caution flag waved on lap 184. With the team being two laps down due to long green-flag runs throughout the race, Gustafson made the call for Berry to take the wave around to get one of the laps back. During the final stage Berry continued to report issues with the throttle and when a caution came out with just four laps to go, the team made a pit stop for four tires, fuel and attempted to make repairs. After further evaluation, the team determined that they wouldn’t be able to fix the issue and sent Berry back out for the overtime restart. He battled hard in those finals laps, ultimately taking the checkered flag in the 29th position.
“I learned a lot, especially in the first two stages,” Berry said. “I think we definitely saw at times we were running some pretty good lap times. Just struggled with dirty air; knowing where to put the car and how to do that. There’s a lot of learning to be done, but all-in-all, it was still a pretty good time.”
Start / Finish: 32 / 29
Next Race: Sunday, March 12, Phoenix Raceway
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Chase Elliott: @ChaseElliott
Hendrick Motorsports: @TeamHendrick
No. 9 Team: @Hendrick9Team
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Founded by Rick Hendrick in 1984, Hendrick Motorsports is the winningest team in NASCAR Cup Series history. At the sport’s premier level, the organization holds the all-time records in every major statistical category, including championships (14), points-paying race victories (291) and laps led (over 77,000). Headquartered in Concord, North Carolina, the team fields four full-time entries in the NASCAR Cup Series, including the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 driven by 2020 champion Chase Elliott.
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