Track Specs: .500-mile oval / 150 laps
Berry’s start/finish: 1st /1st
Alfredo’s start/finish: 9th /24th
CONCORD, N.C. – There was a different format for the CARS Late Model Stock Car Series opener Saturday at Concord Speedway, but it didn’t matter. Josh Berry was still the winner.
Berry, already the series’ all-time leader in victories with eight, added another one in the season opener to go with his first career triumph on the half-mile high-banked oval last season. Austin McDaniel made him work for it, however, taking the lead on a lap-85 restart when Berry got tight on the low line. The two raced side-by-side for the next several laps, and Berry finally made the low line work and cleared McDaniel off Turn 3 at the unique triangular track with four laps remaining in the 100-lapper.
From there, Berry stretched the lead and crossed the line 1.3 seconds ahead. McDaniel was second, followed by Layne Riggs, Justin Johnson and Deac McCaskill. The victory was his 25th in the past three seasons with JR Motorsports, his ninth in CARS competition and 15th in his last 25 starts. He also remains undefeated at Concord, having won the CARS LMSC event last August in his first start there.
Anthony Alfredo, making his first start for JR Motorsports, qualified a solid ninth, but was caught up in a scramble off Turn 2 on the opening lap. His No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet sustained damage to the front bodywork and he was forced to retire. He finished 24th.
Alfredo, who started on the preferred inside line on the tricky track, was running through the dogleg Turn 2 on the first lap when the car ahead moved up the track. The resulting wheel-to-wheel contact pulled the 17-year-old Connecticut driver into a spin that wound up at the inside wall. The crash damaged the steering on his Chevrolet and bent the front bodywork up in a V. He was forced to park it after just one lap completed.
The CARS Circle Track Warehouse 200 featured a unique qualifying procedure. Knockout qualifying, similar to the way the NASCAR Xfinity Series does it, was the order of the day. Berry made a solid first run to reach the final eight, and grabbed the pole in the run-off.
During the race, cars had to make two pit stops under yellow, at lap 50 and lap 85, to remove a piece of tape and cut a zip-tie holding a ribbon on the rear spoiler. The pit stops were for position, and Berry held serve on both of them to maintain his lead. When the checkered waved, the Tennessee native had earned his record ninth CARS LMSC victory.
Berry and Alfredo will be in action next at Dominion Raceway (March 28) in Woodford, Va.
Josh Berry, driver No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet team
“We unloaded really fast for Friday practice and were able to tune on it from there. CARS had some different procedures for qualifying and in the race, and I feel like our team did a great job of adjusting to those. After we were able to get the pole and the first pit-stall selection, we felt like that would be a huge benefit during the pit stops. Our plan was to stay in the lead if we could and save as much tire for the end because we knew there was a chance of a late-race yellow. I was a little bit worried about the restarts because I knew our car took a couple laps to get going, and that showed when I lost the lead to the 12 car, but we were able to get back around him in a couple laps. All in all, we had about a perfect weekend, and it was awesome to get back to the track and get another win. I just really want to thank Dale, LW, and Kelley for all of their support, and all of our guys at JRM for the hard work."
Anthony Alfredo, driver No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet team
"The guys worked hard all weekend and Josh helped me out a lot as far as how to get around the track. We ran pretty well in practice and also ran a decent lap time in qualifying. With the new CARS Tour format, we missed the eighth-place transfer spot by only 0.01 seconds. Starting the race on the inside wasn't a bad thing, but unfortunately our day ended early when we came through the dogleg on lap one. The left rear wheel of the car I was inside of and my right front wheel made contact which pulled me hard to the left. I ended up spinning down the backstretch and making contact with the inside wall that damaged the front of the car. The car would not steer properly and the aerodynamics were greatly affected so we had to park it. It's too bad because I really wanted to go out there and have a strong finish to start the year off and I know the team did too. We are looking forward to our next race at Dominion Raceway in Virginia for the second race of the CARS Tour."