Berry making Nashville homecoming extra sweet

Josh Berry finally crosses off a pair of racing firsts this week as he returns home to middle Tennessee.

On Thursday night, Berry will compete in the Pro Late Model race at the Nashville Fairgrounds. Berry grew up racing in and around Nashville, including at the Fairgrounds. However, it was on the quarter-mile track that uses part of the frontstretch and goes into the infield with Legend Cars.

The big track, per se, is where NASCAR once held races that Berry remembers fondly. Now, he gets his turn to make laps around the track.

“I’m really excited about that,” Berry said. “That’s where I remember a lot of my early years racing and spending weekends there. I remember being a teenager, and we’d race on the quarter-mile, load up the trailer, and then go up in the stands and watch the late models and trucks and everything else. I remember thinking about how cool it would be to run a late model or a truck or sportsman car or something on the big track.”


Berry had always paid attention to the Nashville Fairgrounds schedule when it came out, going so far as to lay it out over his schedule to see if there was an opportunity to make something happen. It has never worked out until this year, as NASCAR heads to Nashville Superspeedway this weekend.

As soon as Berry saw the schedule, he was determined to make it happen. “I’m going to figure out how to be in that race,” Berry recalled of his thought process. Dylan Fetcho Racing is fielding Berry’s entry for the event.

“It’s a bucket list deal,” Berry said. “They are always in the news with the future of the place. I went there (last) Thursday and practiced a little bit, and it felt even more real. And back off the awning where the concessions are in the grandstands, when I was kid that’s where we used to run around and play with our friends. I think going back and seeing all that just made it even more real; I’m so glad I’m doing this because you never know what the future holds (there).”

Berry is from Hendersonville, 18 miles northeast of downtown Nashville. He has always felt it was a popular racing area between short tracks and dirt tracks, and it’s not too far from Indianapolis, either.

NASCAR started visiting Nashville Superspeedway, the 1.33-mile concrete oval, in Lebanon, Tennessee, with its Craftsman Truck and Xfinity Series teams in 2001. Those events ran through the 2011 season, and Berry went to several races at the track over the years.

“One of the coolest things about 2021, when I got the part-time opportunity at JR Motorsports, I remember Kelly [Earnhardt Miller] being like, ‘Hey, your last race is going to be at Nashville’ because of how it worked out with the schedule,” Berry said. “That was really cool. It’s been a lot of fun going back there and racing. Honestly, I think the track itself has put on some really good racing the last few years.”

Berry has competed in the last three Xfinity Series races at the track. He also has a Truck Series start on his resume. All three NASCAR national series have competed at Nashville Superspeedway since 2021.

Sunday, however, will be the first time Berry has competed there in a NASCAR Cup Series car, which is the second part of his homecoming.

“It’s going to be really fun,” Berry said. “But more so, I’m excited about how we’ve been running. You watch the race there from last year, Kevin [Harvick] had a really good race. He had a really good car. So, we feel that’s translated a lot of times this year; maybe not every week, but a lot of weeks when they have a good baseline, they can adapt it to me and we’ve run well.

“I honestly believe we can win. It might take the perfect night, but we’re capable of it, and it feels so real now. So, I’m super excited about that.”

Berry has finished no worse than seventh in the last two weeks, including leading 32 laps at Iowa Speedway. Going into the Ally 400 (Sunday, 3:30 p.m. ET, NBC), Berry has finished inside the top 10 in four of the last six races. The outlier races were St. Louis and Sonoma, where Berry suffered a mechanical issue and a crash.

“It’s funny because it doesn’t even feel like it’s shutting down,” Berry said. “In all honesty, I know that’s been going and my name is getting thrown around with different rides, where we’re going. But that’s just the craziest part about all of it – it’s gotten better and better and better. It starts with the people; every single one of them has been amazing to work with. They’re racers, they’re professionals. How they handle themselves is absolutely perfect.

“It really doesn’t feel like the walls are caving in. We’re just getting better and working and going through it week to week. We’re carrying a lot of momentum. Our cars have been really solid. We still have work to do, but that’s part of the process of getting better and learning each other, but it definitely feels real that we can win a race. I don’t think a lot of people really feel that. People say that, but they don’t really feel it. Or they might say it, but it doesn’t come to fruition like you want, and I’ve been in that position before.

“But right now, I really feel like on the right night, with the right car, the right circumstances, if we do the right things, we can win, and that really says a lot about where we’re at in our first season together. This is a really strong team.”

Story originally appeared on Racer