Myrtle Beach, South Carolina – This time a year ago Jr. Motorsports driver Josh Berry had a different feeling and set of emotions running through his mind, body, and sole if you will.
For those that don’t remember Berry, along with JRM teammate Christian Eckes, were racing hard side-by-side in the closing laps of the Myrtle Beach 400 where Eckes made contact with Berry as the pair powered off turn four. The contact sent Berry into the wall and ended his shot at the victory. The 2017 edition of the race proved to have the same undertones, however, Berry was on the good end of the deal.
The Late Model Stock portion of the Myrtle Beach 400 dual weekends has never failed to produce some of the best racing of the year, in TheWeeklyRacer.com very humble opinion. This race easily stacks up as a candidate for Race of the Year, if that was something that we handed out at the end of the year – maybe that is something we should look into doing this year.
With just a little bit different format this year, fifty-seven cars took to the speedway earlier in the afternoon for single-car qualifying where NASCAR officials introduced a little bit of a twist for drivers and teams. Each car would get two laps. If the team felt like they left something on the table they could let officials know they would like to spin the roulette wheel so to speak. The team would have 45-seconds to make adjustments to the car and then go back out for one lap and that one lap was your time.
Josh Berry was also the man of the hour during the qualifying session earlier in the afternoon laying down a 20.400-second lap around the just over half-mile oval. Berry was the only driver the lay down a sub .500-second lap. Timothy Peters, Tyler Hughes, Jake Crum – who both would eventually retire early from the feature – and Justin Milliken rounded out the fastest five starters and were among the top sixteen drivers to be locked into the feature. Current track and national champion, Lee Pulliam, was forced to essentially spin the roulette wheel after an issue during qualifying. The one lap he was able to put down was good enough for ninth quick.
Things did not take long to heat up on the racing surface as some of the best in the business went to war per se on the worn out asphalt of Myrtle Beach. Several drivers from Jake Crum, Lee Pulliam, Timothy Peters, David Roberts, and eventually Josh Berry all had their hand in the cookie jar for the lead.
However, after what some would call interesting and others would argue exciting, final one hundred laps, it was the No. 88 of Josh Berry who took the checkered flag, the gigantic trophy, and check for $10,000 back to his race shop. Oh, yea, not to mention Berry won a fishing trip for himself and his crew along with a brand new chainsaw.
“The first half of the race we just to manage it and see what we had,” Berry said in victory lane. “Our goal was run the first half and make the car better for the second half and if hopefully if things fell our way we would be up front. We were a little bit too loose the first half, made some good adjustments at the break and I think I was able to conserve my tires better than the first part of the race. It ended up coming down to me and Timothy [Peters] at the end of the race and I was better than him.”
It was certainly no cakewalk for Berry, ended up beating Peters – who had just flown in from Miami where he raced in the truck series season finale the night before – on a late race restart where he ended up spinning his tires and allowing Berry to jump out to the lead.
“We took off and he was kind of able to clear Chad [McCumbee] but I could tell a couple of runs before that he was starting to get a little loose up off the corner,” Berry said. “I thought it was going to come down to him [Peters], Lee and us but Lee ended up going to the back with his issue so it just came down to Timothy and me. I really felt like we were able to save a little more than him and we were able to get away from him there the last couple of laps.”
With just how tight the field was running from first all the way back to fortieth you would have to think that in the back of your brain that you would be thinking about all the happened one year ago. We ask Berry what was going through his mind in the closing laps as he tried yet again to seal the deal at Myrtle Beach.
“Yea, it’s weird. The second half of the race just has a tendency to thin out. It was a little like last year and it came down to just me and Timothy and it was just like that last year really,” Berry went on to say. “I just ended up on the wrong side of it then. Either way, hats off to all of these guys at Jr. Motorsports. They work their butts off building racecars. It means a lot to get them into victory lane. It has turned into a pretty big day for those guys and tomorrow [Sunday] is going to be a pretty big day for Dale too so it means a lot to be able to bring him a Myrtle Beach 400 win.”
Myrtle Beach 400 Late Model Stock UNOFFICIAL Results
|6||#27||Tommy Lemons Jr.||225|
|21||#60B||RA Brown II||225|
|26||#23||Dexter Canipe Jr.||224|
|29||#88P||Charles Powell III||223|