Josh Berry, driver of the No. 4 SunnyD Ford Mustang Dark Horse, will be making his fifth start with Stewart-Haas Racing this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway. The Tennessee native stopped by the infield media center before qualifying to talk about his season to date.

JOSH BERRY, No. 4 SunnyD Ford Mustang Dark Horse – WHAT KIND OF PLACE WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE ADDED TO THE SCHEDULE? “Japan seems like a long ways away (laughing). Montreal, I remember growing up and watching racing there. It seemed like a good racetrack to put on a good show. I feel like North America, to me, is the extent of it, whether we’re going north or south.”

HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR NASCAR TO HAVE A SUPERSTAR? “Obviously, I think it’s important for the sport to have those guys that are household names. I mean, to me, the way somebody does that is by winning a lot of races and championships. That’s how those guys beforehand did it. It’s about winning a lot and the difference, I think more than ever now, is it’s just so competitive that it’s hard to stand out compared to everyone you’re racing with. Even the guys that are winning races aren’t winning as much as they were year’s back, so it’s just more competitive than ever. It’s a good thing at the same time, too, from when you’re sitting there watching it.”

THIS ISN’T THE START YOU WANTED, SO HOW DO YOU GUYS TURN IT AROUND? WHAT ARE THE OVERALL VIBES LIKE? “It’s been a little bit disappointing. Even when I started this going back to last summer people asked me all the time what my expectations were and I always said that I expected it to be hard and it is hard. Cup racing is hard. So with that side of it I think each race we’ve had little-ish different things happen that maybe hurt our finish or not, but I feel like when we get everything put together and the car is handling like I want and we execute, we have speed, we make progress, we’re faster, so, for me, I made a couple of mistakes over the last few weeks. Spinning out in qualifying at Phoenix put us really far behind all these guys. All week all they talk about is how you can’t pass. I mean, having a mistake like that puts you really far behind and makes your day look worse than it really is, so, for me, it’s just hopefully getting some of these mistakes out of the way early on and start qualifying a little bit better and I think we’ll be fine.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT BUBBA POLLARD MAKING HIS DEBUT AT RICHMOND? WHAT DOES THAT MEAN TO SEE HIM HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO TELL HIS STORY AND SHOWCASE HIS SKILLS? “I think it’s really cool and I think he’s going to a great place. I think the Xfinity car at Richmond, when I think if we go back probably seven or eight years, I did that. I had a race there, I think in 2015. It was probably my second or third start and I was racing Cup guys that night and raced up into the top five and had a really good race. I remember coming in the media center afterwards and nobody knew who I was. Everybody was like, ‘Who’s this guy?’ So I think the opportunity is there for Bubba. I watched Dale’s video and he said, ‘If we give him a good car, he’ll race it to the front,’ and, honestly, I believe that. I think that platform at Richmond, I think, is a lot like the short track racing that he does and that I did for years, so I’m excited to watch how he does for sure.”

WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND MOST DIFFICULT OR WHAT HAS SURPRISED YOU THE MOST ABOUT DOING THIS EVERY WEEK? “Nothing in particular. I think throughout my opportunities last year I realized how competitive it was and how hard it was. I think just building the relationship with your team, working on the communication of practice to qualifying to the race and learning that. That’s where I feel like I need to grow a little bit. Last year, you’re on borrowed time each race. We didn’t know which race they were coming back or not and we kind of just raced. We didn’t really think about any of that stuff and now whenever you’re trying to build, you build piece by piece into something bigger. This is an important time for all of us right now to learn each other and just do a little better job of that, and I think it’ll come with time.”

WOULD MISTAKES BE THE BIGGEST THING THEN BEHIND THE WHEEL? “Yeah, I think so. Each race has been different. Daytona, we lost a lap getting spun out on pit road. I don’t really know what I would have done different in that scenario. The Duels, we had an issue with the fuel pump. Each race has been a little different. I had back-to-back speeding penalties at Atlanta, which was silly but just an honest mistake of understanding the car and everything there. I think you can’t have those mistakes. You’ve got to execute each practice session, qualifying session and, to me, I think that’s where I’ve missed it a little bit. I’ve got to clean that stuff up. If we can get our car a little bit better here in different spots of the race, I feel like we can run in the top 15, top 10 pretty easy.”

HOW FAR OFF DO YOU FEEL YOU ARE FROM THAT? “I feel like when our car is balanced and driving pretty good it’s fast. The speed is there, so, to me, it’s just about learning how to communicate that, those different pieces, to Rodney. When I go out to practice at Phoenix and feel like I’m tight, I don’t know how tight I really am. I don’t know what adjustments we need to make exactly, so just learning that and understanding that stuff, so I can give him better information, is gonna be important. That starts with practice and qualifying and the start of the race. I feel like the last two weeks are a little bit more a gauge of where you’re at. We’ve had one bad run in each race where we fell back and lost a lap. Really, if we didn’t have those two runs our finishes look a lot better.”

IS THE MOST CHALLENGING THING FOR YOU TO GET THROUGH IN THIS TRANSITION THE ROAD COURSES? WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS HEADING TO COTA? “Yeah, for sure. I think even when I went to the Xfinity Series I hadn’t raced on road courses at all, so next week is gonna be tough. I definitely know that, especially with all the extra guys that are really talented coming in. I think that’s just gonna make the field that much more deep, but, all in all, going into next week I don’t really have expectations. It’s everything that I said. However we start to learn, to get faster, to get better, get more competitive, not make big mistakes, keep the car on the racetrack and dodge the chaos that is a lot of times if we have late-race restarts. I think if we can do all that, we can get a solid finish.”

HAVE YOU SPENT MORE TIME IN THE SIM TRYING TO WORK MORE ON ROAD COURSES? “Yeah, over the last couple of years that’s definitely been a big effort of mine, and I felt like the biggest thing that I was against learning – a lot of times in the Xfinity car was just learning the racetracks. I felt like when I went back to a place for the second time I was considerably faster. I would qualify better. I would practice better. All of those things we’ve talked about helps you so much if you can just start practice faster, you qualify better and then you have better track position to start the race and you race better. Next week will be another chance to do that. Obviously, adapting to the new car I’ve watched the races. I can kind of see it’s probably more of a purpose-built kind of road course car. I don’t know if that will make me more comfortable or less comfortable until I get out there and experience it, but I’m excited for that. After that, we’re gonna be part of the tire test at Sonoma. That’s gonna be the first time I’ve ever tested with data on the car, so that will be fun for me to take what I learn at COTA and go be a part of that test and continue to learn.”

WHAT’S THE DATA THAT HELPS? “Just all the data. Throw out all steering, braking, just a little bit more detail than what you would normally have.”

WHAT AFFECT DOES THIS LEARNING CURVE HAVE ON YOU WHEN YOU GO FROM SUPERSPEEDWAYS TO SHORT TRACKS AND HAVE DIFFERENT PACKAGES FOR EACH? “I don’t put much thought into it. I just don’t have the knowledge and understanding and experience yet of this car to really know how it’s gonna affect it. I just go and try to learn as quick as I can and take in all the information that I can to be prepared, but really it just comes down to going out and doing it and feeling it for yourself. That’s the most important part. It was funny, I thought even last week I thought it was a step in the right direction and a lot of people said it was the opposite. There was a lot of mixed reviews on that, but I thought it was a step in the right direction. Sure, there’s a ways to go, but I thought it was an improvement in just how the car felt to what I remembered the year before, but we’ll let all these other guys talk about it, I guess.”

Ford Performance PR