On Saturday afternoon, May 15, JR Motorsports driver Josh Berry finished second behind Team Penske’s Austin Cindric at Dover International Speedway. This NASCAR race was his ninth of 2021 as part of a part-time schedule. However, another strong performance created questions about whether Berry will continue to race in the No. 8 Chevrolet Camaro.
Following Saturday’s performance, fans on Twitter began expressing hope that Berry will find sponsorship for the remainder of the season. Team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. saw the comments and provided optimism, explaining that JRM’s decision-makers are “working hard” to keep Berry in the car. Earnhardt added that the strong performances behind the wheel are “helping a ton.”
Earnhardt was not the only person to chime in about the situation. Marcus Lemonis, the CEO of Camping World, also responded and said that he and Kelley Earnhardt are working on keeping Berry in the No. 8 Chevrolet. Lemonis has sponsored several drivers in need, including multiple in the Truck Series, as well as Trackhouse Racing’s Daniel Suarez.
Berry Initially Had Limited Races on His Schedule
The 30-year-old Tennessee native entered the 2021 season set to start 12 races for JR Motorsports before teammate Sam Mayer would take over after his 18th birthday. The youngster would continue to drive the No. 8 for the remainder of the season in preparation for becoming the full-time driver in 2022.
The season started with Berry crashing at Daytona International Speedway and finishing 27th. He did not compete in the Daytona Road Course race but returned to the lineup at Homestead-Miami. Berry started 20th and finished 10th, his first top-10 of the year. He then followed up with a seventh-place finish at Las Vegas.
The 2021 season has not been all excitement for Berry and the No. 8 team, however. He crashed in two consecutive races — Phoenix on March 13 and Atlanta on March 20 — but he secured the first win of his career two weeks later at Martinsville on April 9. Since that win, Berry has posted two runner-up finishes, one at Darlington and one at Dover. He also secured the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus.
When Berry won at Martinsville, he immediately began to spark conversations about sponsorship. Fans and analysts alike called for a company to support him. Tire Pros answered the call. Having originally agreed to sponsor the JRM team for six races, four of which featured Berry as the driver, Tire Pros agreed to sponsor Berry for two more races once he won at Martinsville.
Berry Now Aiming for Strong Cup Series Race on May 23
With the Xfinity Series race complete, Berry will next turn his attention to an entirely new challenge. He will join Spire Motorsports for the Cup Series race on Sunday, May 23 and will get behind the wheel of the No. 77 Chevrolet Camaro in place of Justin Haley, who will miss the race due to COVID-19 protocols.
Experience will be critical in Berry performing well at a relatively unfamiliar track, and he now has two races to examine. He competed in Friday’s ARCA Menards Series race and then returned to the Monster Mile on Saturday. Now he will complete the Triple Monster Challenge while driving yet another car, though Berry will rely on his newfound experience to keep him competitive.
“I’ve got some laps here now, I guess,” Berry told reporters, via ARCARacing.com. “Our car was really fast today. Just took off right from the start. Yesterday’s race just helped me feel comfortable from the start. I was able to move forward, got to second or third, and stayed there the whole race. It was a great day for our team.”
The Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway will take place on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET. FS1 will broadcast the race while Jeff Gordon, Mike Joy and Clint Bowyer call the action from the booth. Berry will start on the 15th row while replacing Haley.