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NASCAR Cup New Hampshire

Josh Berry cashes in on wet weather racing's "new opportunity"

Josh Berry continues to gain confidence and improve performance and turned Sunday’s wet weather racing adventure at New Hampshire Motor Speedway into a chance for his first NASCAR Cup victory.

Josh Berry, Stewart-Haas Racing, Miner DOCKS, DOORS, AND MORE. Ford Mustang

Josh Berry, Stewart-Haas Racing, Miner DOCKS, DOORS, AND MORE. Ford Mustang

Photo by: Rusty Jones / NKP / Motorsport Images

Berry, in his rookie Cup season with Stewart-Haas Racing, started Sunday’s race strong but when it was red-flagged after 219 laps due to heavy rain he was mired in 20th.

NASCAR, however, elected to wait out a nearly two-hour, 15-minute delay and mandated teams run the final 77 competitive laps on wet weather tires.

Berry’s No. 4 Ford came alive after the break and by the time of the final caution which sent the race into a two-lap overtime, Berry was running second to eventual winner Christopher Bell.

On the choose lap, Berry elected to line up behind Bell instead of alongside him and after Bell got a big jump on the restart, Berry settled for a third-place finish.

Chris Buescher, RFK Racing, Fastenal Ford Mustang, Josh Berry, Stewart-Haas Racing, Miner DOCKS, DOORS, AND MORE. Ford Mustang, Tyler Reddick, 23XI Racing, SiriusXM Toyota Camry

Chris Buescher, RFK Racing, Fastenal Ford Mustang, Josh Berry, Stewart-Haas Racing, Miner DOCKS, DOORS, AND MORE. Ford Mustang, Tyler Reddick, 23XI Racing, SiriusXM Toyota Camry

Photo by: Matthew T. Thacker / NKP / Motorsport Images

“We were debating back and forth on bottom or top (lane). I really wanted to take the front row, but it just seemed slick down there, right, and I just felt like I would be stuck racing probably Chase (Briscoe), who would have been on the outside,” Berry explained.

“Honestly, I think I probably just really pushed Christopher out there really hard, and I think that kind of checked my momentum. Then I just got a little loose off of (Turn) 2 and got Chase back to my left rear.

“He kind of drug me back, and we got stuck racing and had to drag race there to the line.”

Still, the finish was the latest in a resurgence for Berry and the No. 4 team after a slow start to the season. All four of his top 10 finishes this year have come in his last six races and he’s moved up to 19th in the series standings.

Still in need of a win

He will still need a win to make the playoffs this season but even that appeared to be a possibility late in the race.

“The rain was a new opportunity for us, and we capitalized,” Berry said. “The car was really, really good that second half. I mean, we cut right up through there. Just started out the day really strong and ended it strong, too.”

The 77-lap stint was the longest Cup drivers have run on wet weather tires since NASCAR implemented their use on shorter oval tracks.

Teams were allowed to change tires twice down the stretch under cautions but during non-competitive pit stops and only to new wet weather tires.

Berry said having a good car from the start helped his performance in the adverse conditions.

“It’s definitely a challenge. It’s intense, but it’s so much fun,” he said. “I found myself riding around under caution just trying to figure out where the grip is at, what pavement has grip, whether the paint has grip, doesn’t have paint.

“Then you see us running through the water on the frontstretch. I have never done anything like that in my life, but, man, it was so much fun.

“Our car was really strong. That helps. It’s not just us driving in the rain. It takes the adjustments and the air pressures and everything it takes to make it go on the rain tires. A lot to be proud of.”

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