Notes of Interest

● The next race on the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series schedule is Richmond (Va.) Raceway and the 33-year-old Cup Series rookie Josh Berry has turned laps there in the NextGen car. Making his Cup Series debut at .75-mile oval last year subbing for an injured Chase Elliott, Berry qualified 30th before driving through the field to take home a runner-up finish, leading 10 laps along the way. Coincidentally, Berry’s spotter this season is Eddie D’Hondt, Chase Elliott’s former spotter who helped him navigate the Richmond traffic to his runner-up finish last year.

● Berry has made four starts at Richmond in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for JR Motorsports. In those starts, he’s earned one top-five (third in 2023) and three top-10s, finishing outside of the top-10 just once. Additionally, Berry has led 64 circuits in Xfinity Series competition with an average starting position of 14.3 and an average finish of 10.3.

● Berry first made a name for himself on short tracks, climbing the ranks to earn his seat in the Cup Series by dominating at the grassroots level. During his days driving for Dale Earnhardt Jr., as part of the JR Motorsports Late Model program, Berry amassed an impressive 95 victories in his 262 starts with the team, with 189 top-fives and 219 top-10s. He was also the NASCAR Weekly Series champion in 2020, finishing every race but one inside the top-10 that season.

● Crew chief Rodney Childers has 35 Cup Series starts at Richmond in his career atop the pit box. In those starts, Childers’ drivers have amassed six pole positions, one win (Kevin Harvick in August 2022), 12 top-five finishes, 18 top-10s, 319 laps led, an average starting position of 9.4 and an average finish of 14.4. Childers’ drivers have zero DNFs in those 35 starts.

Josh Berry, Driver of the No. 4 SUNNYD Ford Mustang Dark Horse

Richmond is another short track that you’ve called one of your favorites. What are your expectations of yourself this weekend?

“I think Richmond is one of the tracks that we expect to run well at. Stewart-Haas as a whole has been good on short tracks and has a good program, and I have had success there in the Xfinity Series, as well as in the Cup Series last year in the No. 9 car. I think it’s one of the places that we circle on our calendar knowing that I have a long history in short-track racing, and Rodney (Childers, crew chief) comes from that same background. I think it will be a strong showing, we just have to go execute to the best of our ability and there is no reason we can’t go run in the top-10.”

Bristol was an unusual race two weekends ago as tires were wearing out much more quickly than ever before there, creating chaos. What did the team learn from that race, and how will those lessons translate to this weekend in Richmond?

“Bristol was so unusual, but keeping the tires on it at Richmond will be important. It probably won’t be as dramatic as Bristol was, but all in all I thought we did a good job managing that race and adapting to those odd circumstances, and that gives me confidence heading to Richmond. The more unusual circumstances we face as a team and are able to work through them and overcome them, the better we will be in the long run.”

Richmond has a reputation of being a single-file race. Can you expand on why the style of racing at Richmond requires more than just cutting laps until the end?

“Richmond requires a lot of strategy to manage the tires. Once the field gets on different tire strategies, you will see a lot more passing and opportunities to gain or lose track position. For the most part, it’s challenging because everyone is running hard, but you have to still manage your tires so you have something at the end when you need to make those challenges to gain a couple of spots.”

Have your goals for the season changed now that the Cup Series has visited every style of track?

“Our goals haven’t changed; we are just so focused on getting better. I think we have a lot of good tracks coming up for the No. 4 team and we have made a lot of progress as a team. It’s just going to take some time to get more experience and clean a few things up, but I think we can get there.”

Looking ahead, the Cup Series heads to Martinsville next week. What do you look forward to these next two weekends, knowing you come from a short-track background?

“Both Richmond and Martinsville should be really good for us. More than anything, Stewart Haas as a company has been strong on the short tracks, so I think we can take the standard we have as an organization and apply what we learned at Phoenix and Bristol and apply those things to the next two weeks and put together two really strong runs.”