Josh Berry’s First Time Around Filling Kevin Harrick’s Shoes Ended Dismally After Failing to Qualify

Published 02/04/2024, 12:00 PM EST

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All eyes will be on Stewart-Haas Racing’s new No.4 Josh Berry since he has replaced Kevin Harvick. With Harvick’s departure, SHR is entering a new era and is trying to find their winning identity back. Berry has never run a full Cup Series schedule prior to this opportunity and his inexperience against seasoned drivers was evident at the Clash.

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Filling in as a substitute driver and representing a team banner are two different things and the 33-year-old soon realized this fact. During the season’s opener at Coliseum, Berry and his No.4 team were handed a big disappointment. With a #25 finish in the final practice race, Berry was unable to steer his team in Saturday night’s main event. On the other hand, his teammates, Chase Briscoe, Ryan Preece and Noah Gragson, all started their season on a good note.

Josh Berry looking forward to Daytona Clash after abysmal showing at the Clash

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Competing in the NASCAR Cup Series is a daunting challenge and even so more when you are replacing an icon like Kevin Harvick. It was a disheartening sight for the SHR team to not see Berry and his No.4 car make the final cut for the Busch Light Clash event. However, Berry feels like his team just needs a little more adjusting and they will make amends for this early exit at the Daytona 500.

Speaking after the race, Berry said, “Obviously, it was a fun experience to race here at the Coliseum. I feel like everybody did a good job. Obviously, it was a lot happening really quickly there, and I thought we did the best we could. We just barely missed it. I think we just needed a little bit more time to make some adjustments there. Ultimately, we were really close to making it into the show. We’ll just get ready and get ‘em at Daytona.”

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The 36-driver lineup was split into six groups of six cars that were allowed to be on track for a four-minute timed session. As the sessions concluded, the quickest 22 drivers made it to the main event with the 23rd spot awarded to the highest driver in the 2023 points standings who was unable to make the cut amongst the 22 drivers. Ryan Blaney made a use of this provision and thus secured that 23rd spot.

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Before the qualifying and the event at the Coliseum, Berry was banking on his experience running in late-model races and short-track event experience.

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Coliseum proved to be a different beast for Berry

Josh Berry was banking on his short-track prowess from his late-model racing years going into the Busch Light Clash. Piloting the No.4 Ford Mustang, Berry also highlighted how the Busch Light Clash can be unpredictable, owing to the close contact and prevent cautions. Speaking about his preparations ahead of the exhibition event, Berry told Speedsport, “My experience running late models on short tracks is going to be useful.”

I think how the race will unfold will be similar to some of the bullring events I have run over the years, but I think the Coliseum itself is going to be its own animal. Contact is inevitable, but with that said, you have to give and take. I think you will have to be aggressive, but also be mindful of keeping your nose clean and maintaining track position.”

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The clash certainly was what Berry expected, and more. But unfortunately for him, he did not make the final 23 featuring at the main event. However, he will have the opportunity to make amends at the Daytona International Speedway on Feb 18.

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Written by:

Chintan Devgania

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Chintan Mahesh Devgania is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. As someone who likes to dive deep into the sport, he often takes up less explored topics to eventually see them make their way into top stories. His report on Toyota’s young recruit, Jade Avedisian, sharing her thoughts on Late Model Racing, was an example of that.
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Edited by:

Rohan Karnad

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