Josh Berry Signing Brings David Pearson Demeanor to Wood Brothers Racing

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Josh Berry Lands at Wood Brothers for 2025James Gilbert - Getty Images
  • Josh Berry will replace Harrison Burton for the 2025 season.

  • The move means two of the four Stewart-Haas Racing drivers have found jobs since being told last month that SHR was closing at year’s end.

  • Chase Briscoe recently announced he was moving to Joe Gibbs Racing next season.

For 6 ½ years the Wood Brothers NASCAR Cup team—one of the most successful in the sport’s history—has entered each event hoping the organization’s 100th victory would be delivered on race day.

Matt DiBenedetto came close in 2020, finishing second at both Las Vegas races that year. However, neither Paul Menard, who preceded DiBenedetto, nor Harrison Burton, who succeeded the California native, have come close to giving the storied team that elusive, precious win.


Now, it’s Josh Berry’s turn as he will replace Burton for the 2025 season, meaning two of the four Stewart-Haas Racing drivers have found jobs since being told last month that SHR was closing at year’s end.

When this year began, it was no secret that Burton’s job was on the line. The 23-year-old driver had produced only one top-five finish since joining the Wood Brothers in 2022. Berry also knew he was auditioning for a job when he left for the season-opening Daytona 500 due to rumors that SHR was closing.

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Josh Berry turned heads with a second-place finish last year at Richmond while substituting for an injured Chase Elliott.David Jensen - Getty Images

Once SHR’s closing became official, the Wood Brothers talked with Chase Briscoe, because of his relationship with Ford, but when they realized it wouldn’t work, Berry became their top prospect. Ironically, the Wood Brothers had kept an eye on Berry since his Late Model days when he won 22 races in eight years in the CARS Tour and claimed the NASCAR weekly racing series national championship four years ago.

It was last year, however, when Berry substituted for Chase Elliot at Hendrick Motorsports that the Woods knew they wanted him in their car. He adapted quickly, and at Richmond he finished second after qualifying 30th.

“The last few weeks he’s been pretty much up front at the end of each race, so that’s what we’re looking for,” says Len Wood, team co-owner and chief operating officer.

Once the Wood Brothers knew Briscoe was headed for Joe Gibbs Racing, they wasted little time in contacting Berry. They met the Monday after the Sonoma, Calif., race and it became “a real easy process.”

Berry said last month he and crew chief Rodney Childers would like to go somewhere as a package deal, but at Wednesday’s announcement at the Ford Technical Center in Concord, N.C., no crew chief was announced. Instead, the Wood Brothers are taking the approach of building the team around Berry. They want to look at their options, including their current crew members and Team Penske with whom the Wood Brothers have a technical alliance.

Berry notes that if he’s learned one thing in driving for various NASCAR teams it’s the importance of the culture, the fit and the belief between the driver, crew chief, ownership and management.

It's no secret that racing is a business and a sport based on two elements—chemistry and results. Berry’s personality mirrors that of the Wood family. Neither are flamboyant and they approach racing in a similar fashion, work hard and let your on-track performance do your talking. There’s something about Berry’s racing demeanor that reminds me of David Pearson, who provided the Wood Brothers with 43 victories in seven years in the 1970s.

Whether or not the 33-year-old Berry can bring the Wood Brothers any type of similar success has yet to be seen, but the Tennessee native may be the one that provides them with that elusive 100th victory.