Wood Brothers Racing announced that Josh Berry will drive the No. 21 Motorcraft Ford Mustang Dark Horse in the NASCAR Cup Series starting in 2025. The team held a press conference earlier today and answered questions from the media about the move.

JON WOOD, President, Wood Brothers Racing – WHAT WENT INTO THE DECISION TO HIRE JOSH? “I think Josh was the obvious choice. We had to look at Chase (Briscoe) first with the relationship that we had with Ford and he had with Ford, but when it was obvious that wasn’t gonna work out, Josh was by far and away the top prospect. He being a Ford driver works, but his results speak for themselves aside from that. We’re just happy it worked out.”

JOSH BERRY, Driver, No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford Mustang Dark Horse – WHAT DOES THIS OPPORTUNITY MEAN TO YOU TO BE WITH SUCH AN ICONIC TEAM? “First and foremost just the history, the heritage, the family atmosphere that the Wood Brothers provide. It just really feels like a great fit for me. I feel like I fit their brand and who they are and how I’ve gotten here and how they’ve gotten here. I feel like this is a great fit. I’ve really enjoyed my relationship with Ford and to continue that on was something that’s important to me and I appreciate and I’m thankful to have that opportunity. It just really means a lot to drive an iconic car like the 21. I feel like it’s a great opportunity for me. I feel ready to provide results and I think that, all in all, it’s gonna be a great relationship.”

EDDIE WOOD, Chief Executive Officer, Wood Brothers Racing – THERE ARE SO MANY FACTORS THAT GO INTO THIS DECISION. WHAT WERE SOME OF THE THINGS THAT MADE YOU LAND ON JOSH? “Basically, like Jon said, we had to talk to Chase first because he had a relationship with Ford Motor Company, Ford Performance, through the development series that went back a number of years. So, that didn’t seem like that was gonna work out. He already had an offer when the got there, but we had Josh in the back of our mind anyway and when everything unfolded like it did, we were just really excited to get to talk to Josh and we didn’t waste any time doing it. I think we met the Monday after Sonoma, which was right away, and it was a real easy process. We’re just happy that he’s with us.”

LEN WOOD, Chief Operating Officer, Wood Brothers Racing – WHAT QUALITIES HAVE YOU SEEN IN JOSH THAT MAKE HIM A GOOD FIT FOR YOUR ORGANIZATION? “We started hearing Josh’s name like, who won Hickory? Josh Berry. Who won Tri-County? Josh Berry. That kind of stuck in the back of our head from years ago. I think when he came in and drove for Chase Elliott when he had his leg problem, he did really well. He adapted quickly. I think it was Darlington where he didn’t have a good qualifying lap and started in the back, but he finished third. That kind of catches your eye. And then the last few weeks he’s been pretty much up front at the end of each race, so that’s what we’re looking for.”

JON WOOD CONTINUED – “When he substituted for Hendrick that was pretty eye-opening. I mean, he can tell you, but I can’t. These cars are monsters and to have no experience in a Next Gen car or a Cup car and to hop in that thing and go like he did at different types of tracks, I mean, it gave every one of us pause and you don’t really know it at the time. It’s not something that you’re aware of. You’re not like, ‘Well, this might be our next driver,’ but you still remember it and it stood out.”

QUESTION AND ANSWER SESSION:

JON WOOD CONTINUED – CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE CREW CHIEF JOSH WILL BE PAIRED WITH? “We’re stunned that that’s a question first and foremost (laughter). The crew chief part hasn’t been worked out yet. There’s a lot of good people at Team Penske. We have a really good team now and that’s just not something that we’ve really addressed.”

JOSH BERRY CONTINUED – TO LAND WITH A TEAM THAT HAS SO MUCH HISTORY AS THE WOOD BROTHERS, HOW CAN YOU SUM UP WHAT THESE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS HAS BEEN LIKE? “It’s definitely been a whirlwind from going – 2020 was the weekly series national champion on the NASCAR side of things, late model racing full-time and really didn’t believe that opportunities outside of that were coming my way, and I’ve just been very thankful and very fortunate to have a lot of great people behind me that have given me opportunities, but also opportunities that have provided results and allowed me to continue on this path. It’s been a lot going on the last few years. I’m really thankful for Dale and Kelly, LW, everybody at Junior Motorsports. I called Tony last night. Tony was super excited for this. He spoke so highly of the Wood Brothers and the people that they are and they feel like this is a great fit for me and I’m thankful for Tony and Gene and the opportunity that I had at Stewart-Haas Racing. That landed me here and now I have a new opportunity ahead of me for next year, which I’m really excited for. I think it’s a great fit for me. I have a great opportunity to come in here and help be a part of getting them back to running where they want to run and where they expect to run and I have the same expectations. I feel like between everyone here at the Wood Brothers, between the affiliation at Team Penske and Ford, I think we have the pieces in place to be competitive, and I think where I’m at with the Next Gen car we’ll be able to hit the ground running.”

WHAT IS IT THAT IS GOING TO CARRY THIS ORGANIZATION FORWARD BEYOND WHAT YOU HAVE GONE THROUGH THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS? “From my side of things, I feel like they’re getting somebody that’s not gonna quit. I’ve worked way too hard at this and done it for so long that you can’t beat somebody that gives up and I’ve had to grind it out for years to get to this point, and I feel like I’ve proven myself over and over again, and I feel like I’m ready for this challenge next.”

JON WOOD CONTINUED – WHAT DO YOU FEEL THE TEAM HAS BEEN MISSING THE LAST FEW YEARS? “We need to be better. There’s no secret in that. This is a business that’s based on chemistry and it’s a sport that’s based on results and, right now, we’re just not having those results. If Harrison shares some of the responsibility, if it’s on us, we’re not pointing fingers. We’re not here to say this one is at fault or that one is at fault, we’re just not where we need to be. Finding that right chemistry and balance to have those results in performance, that’s what we’re looking for.”

EDDIE WOOD CONTINUED – “Like what Jon said, a race team is not unlike a football team or a baseball team, probably more like a football team. You can have the greatest people in the world and it not work. You can’t really figure out why. I used to make fun of people when they would say, ‘Well, the chemistry is not working. You need this and that.’ I believe that now, especially with this race car. This race car is so different from what we grew up with and worked and raced all our life. It’s just so different. We used to go to Talladega and Daytona four times during the winter just to get ready for the 500. You would be there four days each to gain one-tenth, and you felt like you had done something if you did that. Then you’d go home and cut the body off and do all that. Now, it’s like you race speedways every week. Road courses, short tracks, everything matters. Everything on the cars matter. Where you are. Your track position, pit crews, the tiniest thing matters and there’s no leeway. You used to have a little bit of a cushion. If you got a little bit behind you could make it up in the pits or sometimes change two tires versus four. There was always a way, but now you’ve got to do it all right all day long and when things aren’t working and, like I said, we’ve struggled. We can’t figure it out, either. It’s really hard.”

JON WOOD CONTINUED – “The cars are just so equal.”

EDDIE WOOD CONTINUED – “And then that. It’s just hard. People get with other people and it clicks and you don’t know why, but if you’re one of the fortunate ones when you get together with a group and it clicks, you don’t ask why, you don’t care. It’s just a really hard sport right now.”

JOSH BERRY CONTINUED – CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE RANGE OF EMOTIONS YOU’VE GONE THROUGH THIS YEAR? “I think we’ve been through this for a decade. She’s been with me through late model racing all the way up to this change in our lives, but, really, the message throughout all that was really simple and that was to go out on the track and perform the best we can. I mentioned this a month ago, but it brought me back to a conversation I had with Dale Jr. last year when I was at Hendrick. He called me almost every week and talked me through all of my emotions and what I was dealing with at that time. He’s like, ‘Man, you’re at your best when your back is up against the wall and you have to go out and perform. That’s what makes you, you.’ I thought back to that this year with everything going on and obviously Stewart-Haas going away, that just provided us an opportunity to go out and perform. That was the only option, really. The emotions of it, yeah, it’s difficult sometimes, but we’ve raced together and we’ve always focused on performing, whether we’re at Hickory or Martinsville or Charlotte. That’s what ultimately my character and what I bring to the race team and being able to keep these opportunities and get these opportunities is what got me here, but also performing on the racetrack. So the main focus all the time was to do everything we could to do that and I think over the last couple of months I thought we did a good job of doing that.”

HOW MUCH CAN A DRIVER MAKE A DIFFERENCE? “From my side of things it’s gonna be a new challenge. I know that we spoke early on the Rodney piece. Rodney and I have had a great relationship for sure, but this opportunity came about and they came to me and said, ‘Hey, we want to get you signed up first. We want to get our driver that we want and then we’re gonna go to work with you and whoever else that we’re gonna meet with, whether that’s at Team Penske or wherever and try to iron this out and figure out what’s the best fit. What I have learned this year is, and I think they spoke on it, how important the culture is and the fit and the belief between the driver and the crew chief and the ownership and the management and the team. That’s what I’ve learned the most about this year is how important that is and that’s just another layer, to me, that I’ve learned to appreciate and understand, and I think now we’re gonna attack this together and go through and make whatever changes or no changes that we feel we need to make to give me what I need and give us what we need to go be competitive. Really, that’s the extent of it, but everyone was very clear to me that they wanted to get this part first. They wanted my commitment first before they went to building around me and I appreciated that and understood it.”

JON WOOD CONTINUED – “I think when you plug a driver into a new team, it seems this car the results change faster than any other prior car. You look at Justin Haley. I mean, who would have imagined that? I’m not really wanting to give him credit for it, but Hocevar (laughing). It’s the same thing. You can use your own judgment in how you feel about this, and if I’m right or wrong, but just those two changes they started having results and it gets back to the chemistry thing. It’s not that it’s the driver’s fault that it’s not working out. It just seems like a driver can make a change with this car quicker.”

EDDIE WOOD CONTINUED – “To add to that, can anybody in this room explain dirty air? I mean, you’ve got a car and this is just kind of off subject, but let’s say you’re running 25th and you can’t even see the car in front of you, you don’t pick up, but the leader if he’s in that spot, he’s half a second or three quarters of a second faster than you. I’ve never understood that in my whole life, but to answer the question, we’ve had all different ages of drivers. We had Bill Elliott and he was over 50 and all of that worked. It gets back to what Jon and Josh said, it’s about chemistry.”

JON WOOD CONTINUED – HOW HAS YOUR NEW ROLE GONE?  “I don’t really see that my role has changed that much. The way that our family runs this business is we all just pull together and address whatever issue or whatever task needs to be handled. We never really worried about titles. It never really mattered. Now, I feel like today’s NASCAR is a little different. It kind of calls for those titles and names, but outside on paper that doesn’t really mean anything. We all do what needs to be done and we all just get along and get it done. I don’t really have any other way of explaining it.”

WHAT DO YOU SEE THE WOOD BROTHERS ROLE IN NASCAR GOING FORWARD? “Well, if you would have asked me 10 years ago would we be sitting here in this position I would have felt like I would have been watching it from home. We’ve had so many close calls, so many opportunities that other teams did and would have failed, and somehow we made it through. Whether that’s making a right decision or whether that’s relationships, being good people. Them being good people (Eddie and Len). I’m questionable (laughing). I don’t know what did it, but to make it 74 coming up on 75 years you had to have done something right. A lot of people a lot of times question the decisions we make. That makes it tough to be on Twitter and Facebook anymore, but they give us a hard time at times and you kind of have to take that and brush it off because the mindset and the decisions that they make in the end seem to be right, so I just trust them in their judgment and try to do right.”

JOSH BERRY CONTINUED – DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU CAN CONTINUE THIS SOLID RUN AT SHR TO FINISH OUT THE SEASON? “Yeah, I feel like we can continue that. We have a great group over there and they’re all really motivated to continue to get better like we have throughout the season. It’s gonna get harder and harder as we probably lost people here or there. It’s definitely gonna get more and more difficult as the distractions get more, but, all in all, we have a great group. I think our cars have been running well and I see no reason to think that the wheels are gonna fall off the wagon, so to speak. I feel like we can keep doing what we’re doing. I’m not gonna let us fail, just like Rodney said. I’m gonna do everything I can to keep that deal going as strong as we can week in and week out. I owe it to those guys for the opportunity that they gave me and for how they believed in me and I’m fully committed to continuing to battle all the way to Phoenix.”

IS IT FAIR TO SAY THE LEAST STRESSFUL PART OF YOUR PROFESSIONAL LIFE IS DRIVING RACE CARS THESE LAST FEW YEARS? “I don’t know. I don’t really feel like I carry a lot of stress throughout this whole process. Four years ago I was racing late models, building late models, driving my truck and trailer to the racetrack racing with my buddies and winning all over the southeast. Getting an opportunity to go drive in the Xfinity Series and now the Cup Series, I’m still really grateful to be here and have this opportunity. I enjoy doing this and I think back to who I was five years ago and to tell that person that I would be sitting here with Len and Eddie Wood and Jon and getting ready to go drive the 21 car I wouldn’t believe it, just like I wouldn’t have believed that I was replacing Kevin Harvick. At this point I feel like anything is possible and I feel like my resume even outside the race car has helped me tremendously and in the race car as well, and I just feel like even through all this I felt like if we just went out and performed, everything would take care of itself. Obviously, I have a ton of great supporters with Josh Jones and Kevin Harvick at KHI Management and everything we’ve worked through I felt confident that if I just went and did my job, that things would work out and thankfully they did.”

DO YOU FEEL WORKING WITH DIFFERENT CREW CHIEFS AS A FILL-IN DRIVER LAST YEAR WILL HELP YOU ADAPT TO WHOMEVER YOU WORK WITH NEXT YEAR? “I think I’ve grown tremendously in that area. Working with several different guys, I think I have a much clearer picture. When I first sat in and got in an Xfinity car I didn’t really have a clear picture on what I needed as a driver or what I wanted necessarily. I was kind of just happy to be there in a way, and now after working with several different guys I think I have a clearer picture of what I’m looking for and I think that will help us through the process. Like I said earlier, we’re gonna work together through this and find the right fit. Everybody is gonna have a fair opportunity at figuring out what we want to do, but I feel like I have a good understanding and I think that should help the process too.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK IT SAYS ABOUT YOUR PERFORMANCE DURING YOUR ROOKIE SEASON THAT YOU WERE ABLE TO LAND THIS RIDE WITH A RELATIVELY SHORT TIME TO SHOW WHAT YOU CAN DO? “I think it goes back to even last year with the opportunities at HMS, working through that and a couple different cars, and then this period I still, even though we’ve had some bumps in the road and things I wish I could do over or mistakes that I’ve made, I mean, we’re outside the playoffs but we’re on the grid. We’re in the picture, which is cool and I think we can win a race. I think that says a lot for a rookie in this series. We’ve been in contention the last few weeks and I think we have some good tracks coming up that if we do the right things and execute, we could find ourselves in that position again.”

Ford Performance PR