● Josh Berry heads to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the first time in the NASCAR Cup Series this weekend, leaning heavily into his short-track skillset from years of dominance running Late Models prior to climbing the ranks in NASCAR.
● The 33-year-old Cup Series rookie’s career has a unique inception. The iRacing afficiando met Dale Earnhadt Jr., on the simulator racing platform, where they fostered a friendship that was rooted in competition. Earnhardt offered Berry an opportunity to test one of his Late Model cars and Berry took full advantage of that opportunity. Starting his journey for JR Motorsports in 2010, Berry made 262 starts and amassed 95 wins, 189 top-five finishes and 219 top-10s. More notably, Berry won the NASCAR Weekly Series championship in 2020. That year, he only finished one race outside of the top-10.
● Berry also has experience behind the wheel of a NextGen stock car, competing in 12 Cup Series races in 2023. He subbed for an injured Chase Elliott in five of those, and an injured Alex Bowman in three. Most notably, Berry nabbed a runner-up finish in Elliott’s car in the April race at Richmond (Va.) Raceway. He started 30th and showed his race craft throughout the 400-lap event before taking the checkered flag 1.535 seconds behind winner Kyle Larson. Berry also garnered a top-10 result in Elliott’s car in the March race on the Phoenix Raceway mile oval. In that race, he started 17th and drove his way to a 10th-place result.
● In the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Berry has earned two of his five career victories on tracks one-mile or less. He scored his first series win in his 13th career Xfinity Series start in April 2021 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway oval. It was his first career race on the half-mile paperclip-shaped oval, and he won from the 29th spot on the starting grid, leading 95 laps along the way. In his three starts on the mile oval at Dover (Del.) Motor Speedway, Berry claimed a victory in the April 2022 race, which was sandwiched by runner-up finishes in 2021 and 2023, giving him an average Xfinity Series finishing position of 1.7 at the track.
● As Berry takes over for retired Stewart-Haas Racing veteran Kevin Harvick, crew chief Rodney Childers remains the shot-caller for the No. 4 team in 2024. Berry and Childers worked together during the NASCAR offseason, running several Late Model races in the No. 62 car for Kevin Harvick Inc. The duo’s best finish of third came at Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway in the Fall Brawl, their first time working together at a racetrack. The Berry-Childers combination also raced at Florence (S.C.) Motor Speedway in the South Carolina 400, where they won the pole position, and at Crisp Motorsports Park in Cordele, Georgia, during the track’s Speedfest event.
● SUNNYD has partnered with Berry and the No. 4 team ahead of the 2024 season, donning the vibrant orange and blue SUNNYD colors during this weekend’s exhibition race at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum, as well as the points-paying season opening Daytona 500 Feb. 18 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. SUNNYD will continue to support the No. 4 team throughout the 38-week season as an associate partner featured on Berry’s firesuit, and the team’s hauler and toolboxes.
What are your expectations for your first race at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum?
“I am definitely excited to go to the Coliseum. I think it’s a really cool event – having watched the races there, it’s really fun to get the chance to compete there. I think, for the race, it is a good opportunity for us to run well. Obviously, with my background being in short-track racing, I think it should help, but I definitely think it will be a unique experience.”
What aspects of your short-track-racing skillset do you expect will translate to your efforts this weekend?
“My experience running Late Models on short tracks is going to be useful. I think how the race will unfold will be similar to some of the bullring events I have run over the years. I think the Coliseum itself is going to be its own animal. The NextGen car is going to be a challenge, but it should be a lot of fun.”
How much are you banking on the team’s previous two visits to the Coliseum to help you behind the wheel this weekend?
“Obviously, Rodney is a great asset, having gone to the Coliseum a couple of times. I think between leaning on the No. 4 team and Rodney and the experience they have had, and Ryan (Preece) running really well there last year, we have a lot of knowledge there. Once we get there and get a practice session under our belts, and feeling out how we unload, we can adjust and expand on what we need to make the main event.”
What’s the shortest track you’ve raced on in your career?
“The shortest track I have ran in my career was a race at Wake County Speedway in the CARS Tour, which is in Raleigh, North Carolina, and it was a quarter mile. It was probably the closest in terms of size and shape that the Coliseum is, and it was a unique race. The corners are tight and things happen fast. Contact is inevitable but, with that said, you have to give and take. I think you will have to be aggressive but also be mindful of keeping your nose clean and maintaining track position.”
How valuable was it to already work with your new crew chief Rodney Childers in Late Models during the offseason?
“Overall, I think it was just a fun experience. I think it gave the two of us a chance to work together in a competitive environment and I think it put to bed any questions we had on how we communicate with each other. I know the Cup Series season is going to be different than what we did but, when I left there, I was 100-percent assured and confident in Rodney and what he will do to get the No. 4 team prepared each week. More than anything, I think it was just a good experience for all of us, and it was nice to race a little in the offseason.”