MARTINSVILLE, Va. (April 11, 2021) – Josh Berry had to wait nearly two days for the Sunday conclusion of the Cook Out 250 at Martinsville Speedway, but it was a worthwhile delay for the late model ace.
Driving for JR Motorsports car owners Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kelley Earnhardt Miller, Berry took the lead from Ty Gibbs on Lap 223 of 250 and held it the rest of the way to win his first NASCAR Xfinity Series race in his 13th start.
In a race that was halted by rain after 91 laps on Friday night and restarted at noon on Sunday, Berry beat JR Motorsports teammate Noah Gragson to the finish line by .590 seconds. Both Gragson and Daniel Hemric passed Gibbs during the closing run to finish second and third, respectively.
For Gragson, that meant an extra payday of $100,000 as the highest finisher among four eligible Xfinity Dash 4 Cash drivers.
But the day belonged to Berry, who led a race-high 95 laps, 10 before the rain arrived on Friday and 85 on Sunday. Berry is the first driver to win an Xfinity race in the No. 8 car since Earnhardt Jr. prevailed at Michigan in 2006.
“Oh, gosh, I have so many people I could thank I could be here until tomorrow morning,” Berry said after climbing from his car on the frontstretch at the .526-mile short track. “Just Dale, L.W. (Miller), Kelley, everybody for believing in me, everyone on this No. 8 team.
To download images from the Cook Out 250, click here.
“Man, they’ve been through a lot the last couple of years. Had a ton of different drivers. Man, I wanted to win so bad for these guys. They’re such a great group. I knew this would be a good opportunity to win. (Crew chief) Taylor (Moyer) called a perfect race. The car was good, and we just kept tweaking on it. The tires were pretty worn out there at the end. I was struggling a little bit with wheel-hop… This is just unbelievable.”
Gragson had good reason to feel mixed emotions about finishing second to a driver he called “a legend in short-track racing.” The driver of the No. 9 JRM Chevrolet had to play defense during the final run to keep Hemric behind him.
“I really wanted to win there,” Gragson said, “but I was having to protect the bottom to keep the guys behind me from moving me out of the way. I couldn’t open up my arc the way I needed to and make speed with that.”
The Dash 4 Cash bonus was a welcome consolation.
“One hundred thousand dollars richer,” Gragson said, displaying the big check. “I’m pumped up. Great 1-2 finish for our team at JR Motorsports.”
Gibbs held the fourth spot, followed by Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Brandon Jones, who had just taken the lead from Berry when storms stopped the action on Friday night.
Series leader and defending champion Austin Cindric ran sixth, with Harrison Burton, Justin Haley, Justin Allgaier and Michael Annett completing the top 10. All four JR Motorsports drivers finished in the top 10 (Berry, Gragson, Allgaier and Annett).
Though he’s not driving in the series full-time, Berry also earned eligibility for the Dash 4 Cash bonus in the April 24 Xfinity race at Talladega, along with Gragson, Hemric and Jones.
This was Berry’s second Martinsville Grandfather Clock as he won the 2019 ValleyStar Credit Union 300, the nation’s biggest, richest and most prestigious NASCAR Late Model Stock Car race. He is the reigning champion for the race that will return on Sept. 25 after being canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Martinsville Speedway will conclude its spring race weekend this afternoon with the resumption of the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 NASCAR Cup Series race at 4 p.m.
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About Cook Out
It has been 31 years and counting since Morris Reaves first spoke, “Welcome to Cook Out! May I take your order, please?”. Cook Out is still owned and operated by The Reaves Family and headquartered in Thomasville, N.C.
The Reaves family takes great pride in serving premium quality food, day-in and day-out. All of our meat is ground and pattied every single day, loaded on a truck every single day, delivered to each individual store location, every single day and cooked fresh every single day. This where the motto was born, “Always Fresh, Never Frozen.” Cook Out has been proudly serving great, fresh food since day one. For more information on Cook Out, visit cookout.com.
About Martinsville Speedway
Founded by H. Clay Earles in 1947, Martinsville Speedway is the only NASCAR track to host NASCAR Cup Series races every year since its inception in 1949. At .526 miles in length, the track annually hosts two NASCAR race weekends featuring the NASCAR Cup Series, along with the NASCAR Xfinity Series and/or NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Martinsville Speedway also annually hosts the ValleyStar Credit Union 300, the nation’s biggest, richest and most prestigious NASCAR Late Model Stock Car race. For more information about Martinsville Speedway, visit martinsvillespeedway.com.
The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) is the sanctioning body for the No. 1 form of motorsports in the United States and owner of 16 of the nation’s major motorsports entertainment facilities. NASCAR consists of three national series (NASCAR Cup Series™, NASCAR Xfinity Series™, and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series™), four regional series (ARCA Menards Series, ARCA Menards Series East & West and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour), one local grassroots series (NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series) and three international series (NASCAR Pinty’s Series, NASCAR Peak Mexico Series, NASCAR Whelen Euro Series). The International Motor Sports Association™ (IMSA®) governs the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship™, the premier U.S. sports car series. NASCAR also owns Motor Racing Network, Racing Electronics, and ONE DAYTONA. Based in Daytona Beach, Florida, with offices in eight cities across North America, NASCAR sanctions more than 1,200 races in more than 30 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico and Europe. For more information visit www.NASCAR.comand www.IMSA.com, and follow NASCAR on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat (‘NASCAR’).