The NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs begin on Saturday, Sept. 25, with a race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Michael Annett, who ended the season below the cutline, will miss his sixth race of the season as he continues to recover from a stress fracture.
JR Motorsports confirmed Annett’s continued time away from the No. 1 Chevrolet Camaro on Monday, Sept. 20. The team also revealed that Josh Berry will return to the stock car for the fourth time this season. He most recently replaced Annett at Bristol Motor Speedway on Friday, Sept. 17, finishing 35th after a mechanical issue sent him off of the track for extensive repairs.
Berry also replaced Annett at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Michigan International Speedway, running top-10 in both races. He locked up an eighth-place finish at New Hampshire while Cup Series driver Christopher Bell won. He then turned in a fourth-place performance in his first-ever trip to Michigan.
Berry will fight for another top-10 finish on Saturday, Sept. 25, at 7:30 p.m. ET. NBC Sports Network will provide coverage for the race as the drivers head to Sin City for the second time in the 2021 season.
Berry Has Some Experience at Las Vegas Motor Speedway
The Xfinity Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway will mark only the second time in Berry’s career that he has suited up at the 1.5-mile oval. He made his debut on March 6, 2021, while driving the No. 8 JRM Chevrolet. Berry started ninth overall but raced his way to a seventh-place finish behind Annett and another teammate, Noah Gragson.
While Berry will not be part of the playoff picture due to Annett falling below the cutline during the regular season, he will have other things to fight for. The first — and most obvious — prize is the trophy that awaits the winner of the 201-lap race. Berry already has the famed Martinsville clock in his collection, but he can add a second Xfinity Series trophy by winning at Las Vegas.
The No. 1 Chevrolet is currently in the owner playoffs, along with the other three JRM rides, meaning that Berry can still add crucial points to the organization’s total. The stock car sits 12th overall with 2,001 points at the start of the playoffs, just behind the No. 2 of Richard Childress Racing and the No. 8 of JR Motorsports.
Berry Will Have a Better Starting Position at Las Vegas
When Berry took over for Annett at Bristol Motor Speedway, he did so after NASCAR released the entry list and the starting lineup for the race. This meant that he fell into the role of a driver change, dropping the No. 1 to the rear of the field.
Berry will avoid this potential issue during the trip to Las Vegas Motor Speedway. JRM took early steps and announced that he will replace Annett for the race. According to Fox Sports reporter Bob Pockrass, this advance notice means that Berry will remain in the middle of the pack instead of dropping back once again.
NASCAR won’t release the lineup until Wednesday, Sept. 22, but Pockrass made an attempt to predict where the drivers will start. He placed Berry at 15th overall, just behind Jeremy Clements and Jeb Burton.