Berry enjoys best run yet at Iowa as job hunt continues

A seventh-place finish on Sunday night at Iowa Speedway meant more than usual for Rodney Childers, Josh Berry and Stewart-Haas Racing.

“It’s interesting looking for a job all week and still coming and running like this,” Childers said. “That’s just icing on the cake, honestly.”

Stewart-Haas Racing is shutting its NASCAR operation at season’s end. It puts a couple of hundred employees out of a job, including Childers, a championship-winning crew chief and his rookie driver.

The Iowa Corn 350 was the No. 4 team’s best run since the news. Berry led 32 laps, the most he’s led in a single NASCAR Cup series race, and the finish was his second-best result of the season and third top 10.


“Everybody has stayed focused and keeps racing their hearts out,” Childers said. “Everybody that we race against knows what the 4 car is capable of and the people that I have, and Josh is just driving his butt off. If he didn’t show that he deserves to be in this series tonight, something’s wrong.

“You look back at Darlington, here, Richmond; he’s doing a really good job, and our short track stuff has been good. We need to give him a little bit better car at the intermediate tracks. But we’re going to continue to fight to give him better cars every week and push forward.”

Berry was leading the race when the final caution flew on Lap 260, sending the leaders to pit road for the final time. A four-tire call by Childers sent Berry off in fourth place behind a trio of two-tire calls.

Ryan Blaney won the race after taking two tires. Berry restarted sixth, the third driver on the outside lane behind Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who also took two tires.

“Looking back on it, we probably needed to take the bottom on the restart,” Childers said. “I think if we could have taken the bottom, we would have had a shot at it. But our car had kind of bled on the longer runs all day. I was probably higher on air pressure than a lot of these guys, and after the last two weeks of having two DNFs, I didn’t want to take that chance again.

“We were falling off a little bit too much on the long runs but I just didn’t feel like our car would hang on on two tires. We did it earlier in the race, and it just got extremely tight and fell off.”

But regardless of the call, Childers felt it came down to the restart. Stenhouse didn’t launch well in the outside lane, which held up those behind him.

“The other side of it, too, is having somebody who is new to this you need to be on offense with him,” Childers said. “He’s done a really good job on restarts all year, and you need to take advantage of that. You don’t need him mirror driving for the last 80 laps.

“So, I hate it didn’t work out any better than that but hell of an effort from Josh and everybody.”

The strong showing started early in the weekend. Berry was 20th fastest in practice but qualified third. In the race his average running position was sixth, and everything went as well as the team hoped, from the car’s speed to Berry doing his job on restarts and overall execution.

“I thought we had a really good race and a really good car,” Berry said. “To score stage points like we did, we had some great restarts in there and just that last restart didn’t really go our way. We lost a little bit of track position and just could never get it back, but, all in all, just really proud of everybody on the 4 team. They did a great job. That was a lot of fun, for sure. We’re going to keep digging to keep getting better.”

Story originally appeared on Racer