Dale Earnhardt Jr Expresses Regret for Disappointing His Best Driver as He Moves to Stewart-Haas Racing

Published 11/08/2023, 2:13 PM EST

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All good things come to an end. That’s what has happened with Dale Earnhardt Jr and his JR Motorsports team. Earlier this year, Josh Berry was confirmed as the replacement for the retiring Kevin Harvick at Stewart-Haas Racing for the 2024 season. While it was a big upgrade for Berry, Dale Jr has recently expressed his disappointment in light of this move.

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The 33-year-old made multiple appearances in the Cup Series during the 2023 campaign. With some impressive performances, Berry was able to seal a permanent spot in NASCAR’s top-tier competition. However, it could have ended in a better way for him and JRM.

Dale Earnhardt Jr feels guilty as Josh Berry is set for his first full-time season in the NASCAR Cup Series

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The story of how Dale Earnhardt Jr and Josh Berry met remains an iconic story. Had it not been for an online sim racing league in 2008, NASCAR would have surely missed out on a great talent in Berry. However, at first, he joined JR Motorsports to compete in late-model racing.

On the latest episode of Junior’s podcast “The Dale Jr Download”, the JRM co-owner spoke highly of Berry. He said, “Josh Berry spent over a decade with us racing in the late models, winning over a hundred races, track championships at multiple places, cars, tour Championship, the national title.”

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Dale Jr couldn’t help but go all gaga over how Berry helped dominate the late-model racing arena. He said, “I never dreamed in my life that I would ever win a national title at the regional division or the regional level. And Josh got that for us, one of my more prouder trophies that we have. And so and I mean right here in this office, right here in this studio, we surprised Josh with his opportunities to race in the Xfinity series.”

 

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While Junior and his team succeeded in getting Berry onboard for the Xfinity Series, the Tennessee-born driver didn’t disappoint one bit. His first full-time season in the competition in 2022 saw him win thrice, and achieve 11 top-five and 20 top-ten finishes. Eventually, he qualified for the Championship 4 but unfortunately, finished in fourth place.

With such great momentum, Berry was expected to only get better in 2023. Surprisingly it didn’t as Dale Jr explained why. He said, “We had a rough year with Josh this year. I take a lot of responsibility for that. It’s not a Josh Berry problem, it’s just we all sit down all season and it’s a puzzle, right?”

Junior continued, “You put it together and you go, we’re gonna put these pieces together and this should work. We all sat there collectively and said, that looks like a good puzzle. And it just didn’t bear the fruit. So, I’m disappointed in that, and that will bother me for quite a while as Josh moves on to racing the Cup series. I wish that we had done things differently, but you put a team together and sometimes it works and sometimes it just doesn’t.”

While it was unfortunate, Dale Jr remains very hopeful of Berry achieving big things in the Cup Series. In fact, he’ll be soon meeting him on the track.

Dale Earnhardt Jr looks forward to competing against former JRM driver Josh Berry

It is no secret that Josh Berry and Dale Earnhardt Jr shared a special bond. After spending several years working together, it must have been painful for both of them to part ways. However, the duo will soon be facing each other on the track. Dale Jr detailed out when and where in the same episode of his podcast.

He said, “We’re going to Florence in a couple weeks. I’m gonna run my late-mile stock car. He’ll be out there driving a Ford that Harvick owns, that Rodney’s built. But, you know, so when we race with him on the late mile stocks, that’ll be a lot of fun seeing him at the track and, and competing.”

 

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Junior added, “But, and I’m sure he’s gonna smoke us being as good as he is, but seeing him race on Sundays next year, I cannot wait to watch his progression, watch him learn, get better and better and better.” It is amazing how the NASCAR veteran is still so much in awe of Berry.

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Well, the praises have been sung for Josh Berry. It only makes it more interesting to see how the new SHR driver fares in the Cup Series next year.

WATCH THIS STORY: Racing Regrets: Dale Earnhardt Jr’s Revelation

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Written by:

Priyank Mithani

423Articles

One take at a time

I was a little kid when Dale Earnhardt said, “The winner ain't the one with the fastest car, it's the one who refuses to lose.” Years have passed and those words could not be more true. Having grown fond of motorsports at a young age, I’m strongly addicted to the adrenaline rush the sport offers.
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Edited by:

Abhishek Ramesh

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