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Josh Berry cashes in at Dover, closes out JRM’s clean sweep of Dash 4 Cash paydays

Josh Berry finished second for the second consecutive Saturday in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, but this time a six-figure Dash 4 Cash prize that his race team has monopolized this year was waiting at the end.

Berry was the runner-up to race winner Austin Cindric in Saturday’s Drydene 200 at Dover International Speedway, but he was best among the four eligible drivers for the Dash 4 Cash $100,000 bonus. Berry led 48 of the 200 laps and topped JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier (third place), 15th-place finisher Noah Gragson and early retiree Brandon Jones (35th).

Saturday marked the last of the four races in this year’s Dash 4 Cash program. Gragson won the previous three bonuses for JRM — cashing in at Martinsville, Talladega and Darlington — and Berry’s finish rounded out a 4-for-4 sweep for the Dale Earnhardt Jr.-owned organization. In the moments after the finish, Berry said he wasn’t sure what he’ll do with his share of the bonus check.

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“No, not yet. It’s still amazing for JR Motorsports,” said the 30-year-old Berry. “I’ve learned throughout my opportunity this year how big of a deal that is, and we can’t thank Xfinity enough for putting that on and doing that. JR Motorsports won all four of them, so that’s amazing combined with Noah’s. I think we’re going to talk about what we want to do with it, but it’s still really cool to do.”

It was already a big weekend planned for Berry at the Monster Mile. The circumstances were unfortunate, but he was tapped to make his NASCAR Cup Series debut for Spire Motorsports in Sunday’s Drydene 400 (2 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM) after Justin Haley was ruled out of the No. 77 ride by COVID protocols. Allgaier said he was also considered as a substitute for Spire, but with his wife, Ashley, close to her due date with the couple’s second child, he said he made a prudent choice to limit his time away from home.

Credit Berry’s work in a part-time role with JRM’s No. 8 Chevrolet team for being among the top fill-in candidates. Three of his last four races have produced finishes of first, second and second — including an emotional breakthrough triumph last month at Martinsville Speedway. Given his chance to perform on the national-series level, the reigning NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series champion is making the most of the spotlight.

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“I think it was a huge confidence-booster for all of us, a huge weight off our shoulders,” said Berry, who now has 16 career Xfinity Series starts. “I think I made it pretty clear how bad I wanted to win and these guys did, too. Really, going into this opportunity, I felt like, man, if I won, that was like the epitome, the best possible scenario of winning a race. Really, we’ve had the chance to win several. These races are hard to win, the series is tough. I mean, there’s a lot of experience here, so just really thankful to be doing it. I think we’re attracting a lot of attention and that’s amazing.”

Allgaier led the most laps — 94 — but his No. 7 JRM Chevrolet faded after Cindric took command for keeps on Lap 150. Gragson dropped off the lead lap after a late pit stop to tighten lug nuts on his No. 9 Chevy. Jones exited during Stage 2 when his Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Toyota collided with the No. 11 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet of Zane Smith, ending his race after 68 laps.

Next to Berry, Allgaier emerged as the strongest contender for both the race win and the Dash 4 Cash prize. Allgaier won Stage 1, and Berry iced Stage 2, and Allgaier had regained the top spot before Cindric’s late surge to the checkered flag.

“It’s hard to be disappointed when you run up front all day and you finish third,” said Allgaier, who won for the second time this season in last weekend’s race at Darlington. “It’s still a great day for us. Yeah, I would have loved to have won the race, I would have loved to have won the Dash 4 Cash, but we got beat by two cars and two drivers that were better at the end of the race there. I can’t be super-disappointed in that. I’ve got to take the positives and go on to next week.”

Allgaier added that he was happy to see the Dash 4 Cash bonus stay within the JR Motorsports fold, tipping his cap to Berry, who had never competed on Dover’s rugged 1-mile layout until a runner-up finish Friday in the ARCA Menards Series East race.

“Yeah, super difficult,” Allgaier said of Berry making his first Dover start without the benefit of practice or qualifying. “Obviously, this was a big one for them. They came up yesterday and got to run the ARCA race and that’s been Josh’s biggest thing is just not having experience at these race tracks. I thought that was really good for them yesterday, but he’s done a great job. His preparation’s great. He’s obviously an incredible race car driver. Throughout the years watching him race Late Models, it’s obvious he’s a great race car driver but then to come and do what he’s doing is really, really cool.”