Don’t try to tell Josh Berry that video games are a waste of time.
After meeting NASCAR superstar and Late Model Stock car owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. on iRacing in 2009, Berry got to the know Earnhardt after the two started chatting online after races. That evolved into a phone conversation that eventually led to a tryout for Berry in a JR Motorsports-owned Late Model Stock car.
Berry will be running the JR Motorsports car at Martinsville Speedway in a couple of weeks when he attempts to make the field for the Virginia is for Racing Lovers 300.
“Dale Jr. and I became friends through iRacing and he let me test the car and I must have done pretty good because I got the ride,” Berry added. “I was able to use iRacing as a way to connect and I think you might see more and more of that down the road.”
Berry enjoyed a solid campaign at Motor Mile Speedway this season and his performance – one win, 15 top fives and 17 top 10s – was good enough to earn Berry the 2012 Motor Mile Speedway track championship and also give JR Motorsports its first championship at any level of NASCAR racing.
Earnhardt was impressed with his team’s performance at Motor Mile.
“I think it's been a great experience for Josh. It's been fun to watch. That's why we have the late model team, is to have people have these experiences and enjoy it, see them kind of grow, become better racecar drivers, people with possibilities and opportunities,” said Earnhardt. “It's been fun in that regard. I'm glad that I've spent 15 years putting late models on the racetrack. Finally win a championship, that's not been the ultimate goal for us. We try to just kind of tutor people along. But winning races and winning a track championship is definitely icing on the cake. “
Berry hopes his success this season leads to a solid showing in the Virginia is for Racing Lovers 300 at Martinsville Speedway on October 21.
“When we went to Martinsville last fall (for the Virginia Is For Racing Lovers 300 Late Model classic) that whole experience seemed to make our program better,” said Berry.
Berry qualified ninth fastest in a field of 79 entries for that Martinsville event. He was running in the top 10 before being sidelined by an accident and relegated to a 40th-place finish.
“We didn’t start out this year with the goal of winning the Motor Mile championship, but it was in the back of my mind,” Berry said. “By the third race of the season we were the front runners. When we won the fourth race of the season, that’s when we knew we had to pursue the championship.”
Earnhardt also echoes Berry’s thoughts entering Martinsville.
“I think Josh will do a good job in Martinsville,” said Earnhardt. “He's had a good car down there the last couple times he's been and enjoyed the experience. I think he's learned from it in the past and can go in there with a better mindset and hopefully give himself a better opportunity at trying to win the race.”
Berry placed fifth in the 2012 state NASCAR point race and ranks 19th in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series’ national top 500. Virginia tracks hosted three of the top 10 drivers in the national standings including Lee Pulliam, the series’ national champion.
Berry began racing at age nine in WKA and TKA karting and won numerous races and championships around Tennessee through 2002. He moved into stock-car racing in the four-cylinder Frontrunner division at Music City Motorplex in Nashville, TN, and won the division championship on the paved quarter-mile in 2004. His next move was to Legends cars, winning the Semi-Pro division championship in his rookie year of 2007. He continued to race Legends in Nashville through 2009, before moving to Mooresville to join JR Motorsports in 2010.
Martinsville Speedway PR