Josh Berry turned heads in his lone 2015 start.
Josh Berry, 24, came into Richmond knowing it would be his only shot this season to show off his talents on the national stage of NASCAR. He did not waste it.
Berry drove a strong race and with the exception of pit road setbacks, his night was near-impeccable. He drove the No. 88 car to a seventh-place finish in his third career Xfinity start, running as high as fourth before a late-race pit stop pushed him to the back of the top ten.
"I can't believe we had as good as a run as we did. Man that was awesome - that was so much fun. I really wish we didn't have that last caution, we could have had a shot to really shock some people. Overall, I'm tickled to death with how we ran."
Fast on the track, faltering on pit road
Berry's Achilles Heel (pit stops) costed him a top five run and during the money stop, he fell from fourth to ninth on pit road. "That one long run, we really took off," he explained. "We had a pretty good car - especially on the long runs. Just struggled on the restarts, a little bit on pit road. I got a lot to learn there and to improve. I think each stop got a little bit better.
"I'm really proud of the team. They did a great job, brought a good car this weekend and made my learning curve a lot faster.
(He's) just one sponsorship away from being able to make a living as a race car driver. He's got the talent and the ability
Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Josh Berry
The rising star is looking for more races in the future, but it all depends on sponsor dollars. "We're trying to do fulltime next year and trying to find partners to help make that happen so hopefully tonight did some good for that. There was a stage in my career where I never thought I'd run one of these races so at this point, I'll take anything I can get, but I hope it's a short track because that's what I've raced my whole life. I do need some laps on the bigger tracks."
Needing a sponsor
Team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the way he ran and hopes to get his late model driver in more Xfinity races, moving forward. "He did a great job. He showed his inexperience on and off pit road, but with more races and more opportunities he's going to improve there. He did showcase his ability and showed that he's capable of running with these guys. We'd love to get him more opportunities to race, but it just really comes down to finding a partner that wants to handle the expense to take the car to the track each weekend."
"I'm ready to race Josh every week, we just have to find a partner that's excited to be on board with Josh."
Earnhardt explained that Josh has no real sponsor connections that could run an Xfinity car at the moment, but is hoping that his performance at Richmond may attract a company.
"He's like a lot of these guys - just one sponsorship away from being able to make a living as a race car driver. He's got the talent and the ability and I'm telling you, he's just one domino away and if that domino falls, I think it's something that will work and he'll make it work. I know he can do it. He's won races in my late model for a couple years."
JR Motorsports had a strong night with Chase Elliott leading the most laps and winning the race. Regan Smith ended up sixth and also led 20 laps. As for Berry, he has the support of NASCAR's Most Popular Driver, now he just needs the backing of a sponsor with money to spend. As Jr. himself said, all it takes is that one phone call and Berry could be NASCAR's newest star.
"You never know who might have been watching tonight."