Berry Posts Win No. 100 in Thanksgiving Classic, Kvapil 6th in Season Finale at Southern National

Photo Courtesy of Philip Goodman

Ron Lemasters | 11/28/2022

Bass Pro Shops Carson Kvapil iRacing Josh Berry Late Model News Southern National

Berry earned the 100th win of his JRM career, banking the $50,000 Thanksgiving Classic with a dominant late-race performance.

Track Specs: Southern National Motorsports Park, .400-mile oval/250-lap feature

Berry's finish: 1st

Kvapil's finish: 6th  

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Nov. 28, 2022) -- Josh Berry has reached many milestones in his career behind the wheel of a JR Motorsports racecar, from winning championships to the biggest races across the Southeast and the NASCAR Xfinity Series. On Sunday night at Southern National Motorsports Park, Berry added one more notch to his resume, earning the 100th win of his JRM career, banking the $50,000 Thanksgiving Classic with a dominant late-race performance.

Berry and crew chief Ryan Vasconcellos played strategy to the hilt in the 250-lap, $50,000-to-win season ender on the .400-mile oval, leading the final 43 laps to post the landmark victory. Driving the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, Berry also earned the first victory in Bass Pro colors for the Late Model team in the same golden throwback car that team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. debuted at Florence (S.C.) Motor Speedway a week ago.

Carson Kvapil, who will take over the Bass Pro Shops colors next season in defense of his double CARS Racing Tour championships, finished sixth in the race after battling near the front all day long in his No. 8 Chevrolet.

The extra-distance race started several hours later than advertised due to persistent rain in the area, with Berry lining up second and Kvapil starting 16th.

In a pre-race twist, Berry's regular spotter, Robert Arch, won the Limited Late Model feature prior to the main event and suffered some heat-related issues post-race. After some scrambling, four-time NASCAR Weekly Series Champion driver and team owner Lee Pulliam was recruited to man the spotter's stand for Berry and the No. 3 machine.

When the race began, Berry stayed in the top three for the first 25 laps before setting a pace and dropping back to fifth to conserve his tires. When the competition caution waved at lap 50, Berry had risen to third. Kvapil, meanwhile, was on a different strategy, dropping back through the field over the first 50 circuits and ending the run 19th, running a specific lap time to save fuel and tires.

It went much the same way over the next 50 laps, with Berry near the front and Kvapil near the rear, saving tires for the later stages. At lap 108, both cars pitted for fuel and adjustments, with Berry pitting from second and Kvapil from 24th.

A quick caution flag put Berry in a position to take the lead, and on the ensuing restart, he did, but soon fell back to sixth after picking up some right rear damage. Kvapil was on pace and hanging out in the top 20. A caution waved for Connor Hall's spin at lap 139, which brought Berry to pit road for left-side tires and a quick repair to the damage on the right rear. Kvapil stayed out and assumed third place when the action resumed.

The strategy call saw Kvapil ride in the top five until another yellow waved at lap 160, and the 19-year-old driver came to pit road for left-side tires and an adjustment while Berry stayed on track.

A caution flag waved at lap 177 with Kvapil running 10th in his iRacing Chevrolet, and that undid Kvapil's advantage on tires, leaving him with 15-lap fresher tires than the rest of the top echelon. Berry restarted the race with 68 laps remaining from third, while Kvapil was 11th.

With 50 laps remaining, Berry ran second and Kvapil 10th, as the battle for the winner's check was on. Berry hunted down the leader and took the top spot with his Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet with 43 remaining, while Kvapil ran ninth. Berry clicked off lap after lap at the head of the field while Kvapil marched up the ranks to sixth at lap 219, battling a tight condition near the finish.

Berry set sail over the final laps and captured the checkered flag ahead of Jared Fryar, with Kaden Honeycutt, Deac McCaskill, Matt McCall and Kvapil the next cars in order.

It was the second straight Thanksgiving Classic victory for Berry, who ran the race last year as a send-off to his first full-time season in the NXS. It was also his 95th Late Model triumph for JRM, dating back to April 30, 2011 at Motor Mile Speedway in Virginia. His five NXS wins give him 100 for his career with JRM.

Josh Berry, driver No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet team

"That was super awesome. I'm really proud of our guys. They have always done a great job and it's always a pleasure to go racing with them. Our cars are always really good. With the format, it was different and a lot of things we had to think out, but it really turned out well. I am super excited to have Johnny Morris and Bass Pro Shops on board here and with our JRM Xfinity team next year too. With this being the No. 3 car, I never saw myself driving it like that. When I was asked to drive it, how could I not? Taking it to Victory Lane was really special. These guys called a great race, especially since we had to go get Lee Pulliam to spot for me when Robert (Arch) got a little hot after the Limited race, and he called a great race. I have a ton of respect for him. It was just a great day."

Carson Kvapil, driver No. 8 iRacing Chevrolet team

"We would have had a better finish with a little better left-side tires, but that was the way the race played out. Not a lot of people got lapped, and it didn't work out the way we wanted it to. Track position was something we couldn't overcome there at the end. Tire wear is pretty big and it's important to keep the tires under it and maintain track position. It's pretty hard to pass here, and at the end our iRacing Chevrolet was a little too tight to pass cars like we needed to. It's awesome to see Josh win and take home the $50,000 for the JR Motorsports guys, but I wish we had a little more at the end of the day. I'm looking forward to next year in the Bass Pro Shops car, and I can't thank iRacing, JR Motorsports and Chevrolet enough, as well as Bryan (Shaffer), Slim, Ernie, Justin and spotter Brett, for what they do for me. Looking at where I was a year ago compared to where I am now, I'm more than happy, so we'll focus on next year."



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