Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Josh Berry defends title during historic offseason race

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NASCAR is in the middle of the off-season, and the majority of drivers are taking a much-needed rest before February. However, Josh Berry is preparing to defend his victory in a prestigious race.

The JR Motorsports driver will be heading to Southern National Motorsports Park from November 25-27 for the 21st round of the Solid Rock Carriers Thanksgiving Classic, a race previously won by Denny Hamlin. He will join a stacked field of short track stars that includes the likes of Charlie Watson, Layne Riggs, Brenden Queen and Peyton Sellers as he seeks his second straight win.

Berry competed in the 2021 Thanksgiving Classic and used the race to tick off an important career goal. He won the prestigious race for the first time after starting from pole and passing both Queen and Deac McCaskill in the final segment. Now he will return to late model stock in search of his second win.

When Berry heads to Southern National Motorsports Park, he will take over an entry that just competed in South Carolina. He will drive the JR Motorsports Chevrolet that Dale Earnhardt Jr. drove at the Nov. 19 South Carolina 400.

The Hall of Famer raced at Florence Motor Speedway, and he drove the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet with a gold throwback scheme. He started outside the top 20 but struggled several times for a possible win in the final segment while Berry guided him as his crew chief.

The race went awry for Earnhardt on two separate occasions. He received penalties for a contact that caused a warning and was sent to the back of the field twice. Although he worked his way back into the top 10 on both occasions before eventually finishing ninth.

Earnhardt had some minor fender damage after the South Carolina 400, so some repairs need to be made before Berry takes over. Although it will be pretty minor considering Earnhardt had to avoid several wrecks during the short track race.

The Thanksgiving Classic weekend, which will air on Racing America, features a stacked series of races. On Friday there are Carolina Crate Modifieds, Limited Late Model Dash for Cash, Chargers, Legends and Bandoleros.

Pro Late Models, Street Stocks, Southern Lightning Modifieds, Legends, Mini Stocks, Bombers and Bandoleros are on the program on Saturday. Sunday, the biggest day of all, features Late Model Stocks, Limited Late Models and a drift exhibition.

To add to the mystique surrounding the weekend, there will be a big change to the Thanksgiving Classic. The price will be more than $50,000. For comparison, Berry walked away with $9,000 after winning the 2021 race replay.

“The Classic is just that; the Classic,” track owner Michael Diaz said on the SNMP website. “This race is what lasts [Southern National] goes from year to year and it is truly one of the premier Late Model Stock events held. I’m just glad it is [still] at Southern National; the track where that race was held years ago.”

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