The story of Josh Berry will continue into the 2022 season. JR Motorsports has announced that the veteran will return to the team and drive the No. 8 Chevrolet Camaro full-time in search of a NASCAR Xfinity Series championship trophy.
JR Motorsports dropped the news on Monday, Aug. 16. The team released a highlight video showing Berry’s victory celebration at Martinsville Speedway on April 11 and then confirmed that he will be back in the No. 8. The team also posted a collage of photos showing the 30-year-old putting pen to paper and making the deal official.
“It’s difficult to put into words what this means,” Berry said in a press release from the team. “I’m just a local short track racer, so saying this is a dream come true seems like an understatement. I’m so grateful to Dale, Kelley, L.W. [Miller] and everyone at JR Motorsports. They have always believed in me. This is the opportunity of a lifetime, and I’m ready and focused on 2022.”
Berry made 12 starts for JRM in the No. 8 during the 2021 season and another in the No. 1 while replacing an injured Michael Annett. He proved that he could contend with Austin Cindric, AJ Allmendinger, and the other big names by locking up a win and a pair of runner-up finishes. Berry posted a total of seven top-10 finishes for JRM during his limited schedule and two others for Jordan Anderson Racing.
Berry Continues an 11-Year Relationship With JRM
While he made waves in the Xfinity Series in 2021, albeit on a limited schedule, Berry actually began working with JRM more than a decade ago. He has been part of the organization’s late model program and has competed across the country while achieving considerable success.
Berry has won 89 races for JRM while working as part of the late model program. For example, he spent the two-week NASCAR break winning the Hampton Heat 200 at Langley Speedway and the Throwback 276 CARS Late Model Stock Car Tour race at Hickory Speedway.
According to the press release, Berry is the only driver in JRM history to have won multiple championships for the organization. His list of accolades includes the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series championship in 2020, a CARS LMSC driver title in 2017, and the CARS owner title in 2016. Now he will pursue an Xfinity Series title with the organization.
JR Motorsports Will Have To Shuffle the Lineup
With Berry returning to the No. 8 on a full-time basis, there are questions about the rest of the driver lineup. JR Motorsports runs four cars in the Xfinity Series — the No. 9, No. 8, No. 1, and No. 7 — all of which rely on a single driver.
Rookie Sam Mayer replaced Berry in the No. 8 for the June 27 race at Pocono after he turned 18. The plan at the time was for Mayer to continue as the full-time driver of the stock car for the foreseeable future, and he has pursued that goal while posting two top-10 finishes and crashing three times in six races.
Will Mayer move back to another series such as ARCA or the Camping World Truck Series? He achieved success in both prior to taking over the No. 8 JRM Chevrolet. The team could also move him to another stock car. Noah Gragson, the current driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet, does not have a contract for the 2022 season as he pursues another playoff berth.
While JRM primarily runs four cars during the Xfinity Series season, the team could opt for a fifth. Joe Gibbs Racing did so during a 2021 race to have both Kyle Busch and Ty Gibbs join Brandon Jones, Daniel Hemric, and Harrison Burton on the track.
JRM may not provide these answers in the immediate future. The team clarified that they will release further details about Berry’s sponsors and the future of the No. 8 in the “coming weeks.”