Berry Caught in Late-Race Melee at Wild Martinsville Rumble

JR Motorsports | 10/1/2018

All Things Automotive Josh Berry Late Model Martinsville Menards News Sam Mayer

Josh Berry came within a few laps of taking home one of the biggest Late Model prizes Saturday night in a wild finish at Martinsville Speedway.

Track Specs: .526-mile oval / 200 laps

Berry’s start/finish: 4th/19th          

Mayer’s start/finish:  DNS/DNF      

MARTINSVILLE, Va. (Oct. 1, 2018) – The annual ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway, the biggest prize in Late Model racing in the South, came down to three green-white-checkered attempts at a finish on Saturday night, and on the first, JR Motorsports driver Josh Berry was on the front row alongside leader Peyton Sellers.

Sellers had, according to timing and scoring, beaten Berry back to the line by 0.006 seconds to take the lead when the caution waved to set up the first of what would be three green-white-checkered attempts. Berry, on the outside, got a good restart and headed to Turn 1 ahead of Sellers, but the 27-year-old Tennessee driver never made it through Turn 1, as Sellers made contact with Berry’s All Things Automotive Chevrolet and sent him to the outside wall.

It ended a magical night for Berry, who qualified fourth and led all 25 laps of his heat race to earn a fourth-place starting spot for the 200-lap event. Patiently working his way toward the top spot, Berry passed early leader Philip Morris to lead lap 56, and he kept the top spot until the break at lap 100. Soon after the initial green flag, Berry lost the power steering on his No. 88 All Things Automotive Chevrolet, and used the five-minute stoppage to change the power steering pump as well as add fuel and change four tires.

After the six-place inversion, Berry began the final 100 laps from sixth spot and began his climb back to the lead. After a long battle with Layne Riggs, he regained the top spot on lap 150 and held it until the competition caution at lap 180. He resumed in the lead on the ensuing restart and held it until there were just five to go, when Sellers edged him at the stripe by 0.006 seconds. That set up the green-white-checkered process that ended the race.

After Sellers’ contact, Berry hit the wall and was scored 19th in the 42-car field. He would finish there, a lap down to the winner.

JR Motorsports team driver Sam Mayer was unable to transfer his No. 9 Menards-backed Chevrolet from his heat race following a crash on the fourth of 25 laps. As the heat got under way, a big check-up ahead of Mayer resulted in the Wisconsin driver getting punted from behind, and the damage was too severe to overcome. As a result, Mayer did not make the starting field for the 200-lap event.

CE Falk was declared the winner of the race over Corey Heim, Brandon Pierce, Trevor Ward and Sellers.

Next up for the JR Motorsports team of Mayer and Josh Berry is an event at Richmond (Va.) Raceway on Oct. 20.

Josh Berry, driver No. 88 All Things Automotive Chevrolet team

“Obviously, tonight ended up being pretty disappointing. We had a really good car and were in position, but it just didn't work out. The restart where we lost the lead late definitely hurt us. Racing comes down to inches, and Peyton beat me to the line then the caution came out right away, so there really isn't much that we can say about it. The following restart, we had a really good one and went in on the outside and ended up turned around. In the end, it is Martinsville, so I'm not sure why we would expect anything different. We had an unbelievable car, and to be able to dominate the race like we did was something to be proud of. We were able to lead at halfway with no power steering, and the guys did a great job getting that issue fixed for the second half of the race.  Next up for us is Richmond, I am really excited to get back there again and try to get a win.”

Sam Mayer, driver No. 9 Menards/JR Motorsports Chevrolet team

“It’s unfortunate that some things happen to us where we are in the wrong situation at the wrong time. We were really fast and were probably going to be able to get to the top 10 at least. I hate it for the guys because they work their butts off and they put together a pretty good Menards Chevrolet for us to run. Nothing really fell in our favor, so we had to go home early.” 

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After Ford EcoBoost 300*

Homestead-Miami Speedway | 11/17/2018
RankDriverPointsBehind
1Tyler Reddick (P)40400
2Cole Custer (P)4035-5
3Daniel Hemric (P)4033-7
4Christopher Bell # (P)4026-14
5Elliott Sadler2255-1785
6Matt Tifft2254-1786
7Justin Allgaier2251-1789
14Michael Annett632-3408