Berry sees past disappointing start to promising signs with Stewart-Haas

While acknowledging it’s been a disappointing start to his rookie NASCAR Cup Series season, Josh Berry sees a path forward to start getting better results with his Stewart-Haas Racing team.

“It’s just hopefully getting some of these mistakes out of the way early on and start qualifying a little bit better,” Berry said, “and I think we’ll be fine.”

Berry has one top-20 finish through the first four races — which was a 20th-place finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. There were no illusions from Berry about what was in store for him when moving into the Cup Series, and he’s repeatedly admitted to those who asked that he expected it to be hard. And it’s turned out to be hard.


But making mistakes hasn’t helped the No. 4 team’s cause. Berry spun in qualifying last weekend at Phoenix Raceway and had to start last at a racetrack where passing is at a premium. The highest Berry has started in four races is 14th, and he hasn’t earned any stage points (through eight stages).

“Each race has been different,” Berry said when asked if mistakes are the biggest thing about his performance behind the wheel. “Daytona, we lost a lap getting spun out on pit road; I don’t really know what I would have done different in that scenario. The Duels, we had an issue with the fuel pump. I had back-to-back speeding penalties at Atlanta, which was silly but just an honest mistake of understanding the car and everything there.

“You can’t have those mistakes. You’ve got to execute each practice session, qualifying session and, to me, I think that’s where I’ve missed it a little bit. I’ve got to clean that stuff up. If we can get our car a little bit better here in different spots of the race, I feel like we can run in the top 15, top 10 pretty easy.”

Berry sees the potential when everything does come together as it should and the team executes. It’s a matter of doing it consistently and, most importantly, early in the weekend.

“I feel like when our car is balanced and driving pretty good, it’s fast,” Berry said. “The speed is there, so, to me, it’s just about learning how to communicate that, those different pieces, to Rodney (Childers). When I go out to practice at Phoenix and feel like I’m tight, I don’t know how tight I really am. I don’t know what adjustments we need to make exactly, so just learning that and understanding that stuff so I can give him better information is going to be important.

“That starts with practice and qualifying and the start of the race. I feel like the last two weeks are a little bit more of a gauge of where you’re at. We’ve had one bad run in each race where we fell back and lost a lap. Really, if we didn’t have those two runs, our finishes look a lot better.”

Berry backed up his assertion of what needs to be done by the No. 4 team a few hours later by qualifying a career-best second for the Food City 500.

Story originally appeared on Racer