Berry re-unites with Cope at Impact By Marty Smith
CONCORD, N.C. (Dec. 21, 1999) After losing a pair of budding superstars to the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, Impact Motorsports owner David Hodson needed to add an impact player in the off season. Now, he's done just that -- twice. Over the past three years, the Stacy Compton/Kevin Cram driver/crew chief marriage made waves in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, winning twice and posting an impressive 24 top-5 finishes. However, after the 1999 season each fled Hodson's organization to pursue opportunities in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Compton left to drive the No. 9 Kodiak Ford at Melling Racing, while Cram departed to Bill Elliott Racing and the No. 94 McDonald's Ford.
In the wake of their departure, Hodson wanted to hire a proven person to replace each, and he managed to do so with driver Mike Cope and crew chief Bryan Berry, former teammates in the Hooters ProCup Series.
Under Berry's leadership, Hodson sees great success in the future with his new drivers, who is a two-time champion in the Slim Jim All Pro Series, NASCAR Touring.
"Bryan is going to be a great resource to Impact Motorsports," Hodson said. "Team RC will be one of the top-5 teams this season with his leadership."
They're already well on their way. In the series' first open test at Daytona International Speedway last week, the No. 86 RC Cola Dodge was the fastest truck on the track after two days of testing.
"We left there real happy," Berry said. "We'd had a little concern after never having done much with the trucks before, trying to figure out the aerodynamics and all. The Dodge people helped us out some, but we just started throwing things at it that a car would take to make it go fast, and we found a few things there that seemed to help a lot."
Berry comes to Impact Motorsports after a yearlong hiatus from any race team. In the spring of 1998, he joined Ricky Craven Motorsports, where he crew chiefed Craven's NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division squad in 23 races. He was also involved with day-to-day operations at RCM.
Prior to his stint at RCM, Berry served as crew chief for Sammy Kershaw Motorsports, which fielded the No. 41 car in the NASCAR Busch Series in 1996-97. He hired the crew, which built and maintained NASCAR Busch Series cars for Larry Pearson and Dennis Setzer.
After a brief time with Craven, Berry left RCM to form Precision Engineered Racing Components (PERC), his own chassis-building business that caters to NASCAR Winston Cup Series, NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series teams. Although content with owning his own prosperous business, he was bestowed with an offer he couldn't refuse.
"When I walked out of the thing with Ricky (Craven), I could've stayed and we could've went on doing our thing, but I wanted to do my business and work with the race team, and that wasn't gonna work," Berry said. "So I chose my business.
"And, if I was gonna go back to racing, it was gonna have to be something real special situation-wise. And then, Mike called me one day and asked me about it, and I said no. Then, the more we talked about it, the more excited I got about it. I just really feel good about working with him and everybody else here.
"I'm pretty excited about it, working with Mike and this team. Me and him have been friends for a long, long time and we have a lot of similar ideas on racing. We see eye-to-eye on a lot of things. Then, when you add the Dodge influence into it, and (Joey) Arrington motors, it's a pretty exciting deal. I feel really good about this."
Berry claims that one of the major influences in his decision to join Impact Motorsports is his relationship with Cope. The two enjoyed success in the Hooters ProCup Series in the past, and are ecstatic to be reunited once again.
"He didn't get a fair shake the last time he got a serious ride, that's one of the main reasons I'm here," Berry said of Cope, who had a rough time in the NASCAR Busch Series in 1998. "I think a lot of him and he thinks a lot of me, and we kinda had to do this together. My wife and I always agreed that if it was something special, I'd go do it again, and this is something special. I've been waiting on this one. I'm really glad we're doing this.
"Mike and I are working together as we build this team. Our goal is simple; we want to win races. To do that, we need to go to Daytona and qualify in the top-10 and finish in the top-10. If we can get through the first four races, this team will be tough. We will win races."
With Impact's past track record, they very well may win several races. However, despite the success that Cram and Compton achieved, Berry said there has been no added pressure placed on he and Cope by Hodson, RC or anyone else.
"This is a whole new thing for both me and him, and nobody's put any pressure on us at all," Berry said. "Zero pressure. It's just go do what we can do, do the best we can every week and leave there knowing that we've done the best we can do that week. And as far as a sponsor goes, we couldn't ask for anybody to tell us anything better than that.
"I think most of the pressure will be self-inflicted. We expect to do well."