Harrison’s Racing: Josh Berry Darlington Advance

Stewart-Haas Racing

●  Josh Berry and the No. 4 Harrison’s Throwback Ford Mustang Dark Horse for Stewart-Haas Racing head to Darlington (S.C.) Raceway for Sunday’s culmination of this year’s annual NASCAR Throwback Weekend, the NASCAR Cup Series Goodyear 400. It will be Berry’s second career start on the 1.366-mile, egg-shaped oval affectionately known as the “Track Too Tough To Tame,” his first coming a year ago this weekend in his 10th career Cup Series start. Driving the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports entry for an injured Alex Bowman, Berry started the 295-lap race 23rd and finished 30th.

●  Last weekend, the 33-year-old driver from Hendersonville, Tennessee, made his second career outing on the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway oval in Kansas City, driving his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Mustang to a 15th-place finish from his 17th starting position after overcoming balance issues in the opening stage of the rain-delayed Advent 400.

●  Berry has six NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Darlington, which include a runner-up finish in just his second start there in May 2021 among his two Xfinity Series top-fives there. He led eight laps and crossed the finish line .422 of a second behind race-winner Justin Algaier in that May 2021 race. Berry has four Xfinity Series top-10s in all at Darlington, an average starting position there of 15.3, an average finish of 11.2, and he’s completed 876 laps of a possible 884, or 99.1 percent. 

●  Crew chief Rodney Childers knows how to tame Darlington, having visited victory lane three times in his 22 Cup Series starts there, all with former No. 4 driver Kevin Harvick. Childers’ drivers also have earned three pole awards, 11 top-five finishes (50 percent of all starts), 13 top-10s, an average starting position of 13.2 and an average finish of 12.4. Childers’ drivers have failed to finish just one of those 22 Cup Series starts at Darlington, completing 7,390 of a possible 7,632 laps. 

●  After Sunday’s action at Kansas, Berry arrives at Darlington 23rd in the Cup Series standings and second in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings, four markers behind rookie leader Carson Hocevar.  

●  Harrison’s returns to the  No. 4 Ford Mustang Dark Horse Sunday, but with a twist on its normal forest green color scheme. It represents a perfect storm of grassroots-themed components while throwing it back to Childers’ 1998 Late Model team. The throwback scheme includes the names of Greensville Pickens Speedway and Piedmont Interstate Fairgrounds Speedway, two South Carolina short tracks that share the home state of the Southeast’s largest retailer of Ariat and Carhart products. The No. 4 scheme also honors several South Carolina Hall of Fame drivers, including Lee Petty, Fireball Roberts and Ned Jarrett. The Spartanburg, South Carolina-based clothing and footwear company has ridden to victory lane on two occasions with Berry in the NASCAR Xfinity Series – the first at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway in May 2022, and at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in October 2022. 

Josh Berry, Driver of the No. 4 Harrison’s Ford Mustang Dark Horse

Darlington Raceway is nicknamed the “Track Too Tough To Tame.” What makes its layout so challenging from your perspective?

“Darlington is a place that requires a tremendous amount of patience. The line you run right next to the wall takes a high level of commitment and execution all day. If you are off even by a few inches, you get the ‘Darlington Stripe,’ so it’s just a place that you need to be focused and tuned in all race, which is challenging.”

What does it mean to you to have Harrison’s throwback to Rodney Childers’ Late Model days, as well as paying tribute to South Carolina’s racing history and Hall of Fame drivers?

“I am really proud to be able to run that car. I think the No. 4 team as a whole has been doing a really good job together and really learning a lot, so to be able to give back is a neat opportunity. I know (Rodney) will be really excited to see it back on track, and maybe a little bit emotional. I just hope we can go out there and have a strong run and do his car justice because he was bad-ass in it.”

You are heading into a stretch of historically good tracks for you. How does that help you when you head there in the Cup Series in a new car?

“We can just keep chipping away at our progress. We aren’t looking for the home runs, we are just working on those singles, right? Getting better in small increments each week and really making sure we are doing all we can to absorb as much information as possible. I feel good about the job we are doing and improving, and if we can keep going at the rate we are, I think the sky is the limit for this group.”

Rodney Childers, Crew Chief of the No. 4 Harrison’s Ford Mustang Dark Horse

What does it mean to you to see your Late Model scheme back on the racetrack this weekend at Darlington?

“I was surprised to see my car when we unveiled it in South Carolina at the Governor’s mansion, with Darlington throwing back to grassroots racing and the folks who built our sport. It was funny because I thought it was Josh’s Late Model car when we got there – the one he won the national championship in – but we only got the cover back a few feet and I knew immediately what it was. Everyone did a good job at keeping it a secret. It is special to me because it represents a lot of special moments in my life and my career and that car, specifically, was probably the best racecar I ever drove – it didn’t matter where we went, we could win. It was just really special so to see it again and throwing it back to that is really cool to me.”

You and Josh Berry have a background in short-track racing and spent some time in the offseason Late Model racing together. How do your similar backgrounds help strengthen your relationship in his rookie season?

“I think the biggest thing with that is just the respect we have for each other. Going into the season, the driver has to know what kind of crew chief he wants to have to support him through thick and thin. The same goes for the crew chief. It’s a relationship where you really respect each other and know that everyone is giving it 100 percent every race. Whether it’s how he studies or treats everyone on the team, it’s something that, right from the get-go, I don’t ever question if he’s out there giving it 100 percent or not. He knows that the team is giving it all they’ve got and if it’s not going well, we are going to keep pressing until we get it better. That’s something, too, that not every team can do. If you look at all of our races from the start of the year, we have gotten better from the start to the finish. That’s the fun part, to know that we can do that week-in and week-out.”

Darlington is a tough racetrack and a place that takes a very specific setup in the car to be successful. What have you learned across all of your starts that has helped lead to your success there?

“Darlington is kind of like a short track when you think about how the tires fall off and how you need to take care of your tires, how you need to be good on the long run, things like that. The same things you do when you go to Hickory (Speedway) racing on a Saturday night are similar to what you need to do in the Cup race on Sunday. That’s where the discipline comes in and I was really impressed with Josh when he ran the Xfinity car there for the first time and finished second. Since then, it has been harder, and he has done a good job. I know he got in the No. 48 car last year and wished he could of run better, but hopefully we can give him the car he needs to go run better this time around.”

Danny Harrison, Founder and President of Harrison’s

What does it mean to Harrison’s to be a part of the Goodyear 400 and Throwback Weekend, especially with it being in Harrison’s home state?

“I was on board with the tribute to Rodney just because of past experiences. Even though I didn’t know Rodney before, I saw a lot of what he was doing in go-karts and Late Models. We also thought that the Spartanburg Fairgrounds and the Greenville-Pickens Speedway were basically the backbone of where all this started. Spartanburg, especially, being home to more teams than all of the rest of the places put together back in the day, I just agreed that (honoring those racers and tracks) was a good thing to do. There will be a lot of old heads like me it will register with.”

Harrison’s has been a big supporter of Josh Berry between the Xfinity Series, his Late Model races, and now with Stewart-Haas Racing in the Cup Series. What has the journey been like with Josh?

“I just always felt like Josh was good enough to keep moving up, and I was kind of frustrated about nothing happening even after he won his first Xfinity race. I felt like he was getting the short end of the stick, and that’s why I stepped up and helped him finalize his Xfinity deal. That went pretty good for him, and when this opportunity came along, I was really happy about it. I wanted to do what little bit I could do to help, and I’m just glad he’s finally got the chance to prove himself.”


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