Josh Berry answered a runner-up finish last year at Dover Motor Speedway with a victory Saturday in the A-GAME 200 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at the track– holding off his JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier by 0.604 seconds.
Berry led the final 55 laps of the 200-lap race to claim his first win of 2022 and the third of his Xfinity Series career. His JR Motorsports team claimed four of the race’s top-five positions – the first time any team has done so since 2013. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Ty Gibbs was third followed by JRM drivers Noah Gragson and Sam Mayer.
“We just kept our head down and kept working every week and trying to fix any of our mistakes,” said Berry, who ended a five-race drought without a top-five finish. “And we knew that if we did that, and we kept bringing fast cars, we would have the speed to finally win. At the end of the day, you know this deal, it really doesn’t pay to be on fire at the beginning of the season. I mean, we saw that last year with the (eventual champion Daniel Hemric). So we just got to keep moving, I need on keep getting better every week and be there when it counts at the end of the season.”
Allgaier led a race-best 67 laps but was passed by Berry’s No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet with 55 laps remaining. He rallied to his ultimate second-place finish after suffering a setback on a slow final pit stop. Berry returned to track with the lead on that restart, and Allgaier had to race forward from fourth place, getting as high as second but never having a true chance to make a pass for the win.
“I struggled a lot on the bottom on the restarts and just kept trying to work to get better. It’s just credit to these guys, the pit crew did a phenomenal job today, they executed when we needed it,’’ said the 31-year-old Tennessee native, Berry. “And we were there when it counted.
“I went toe-to-toe with Justin Allgaier and he’s so freaking good here. Gosh, I thought he was kind of out of it after that pit stop and then he was right back to second and I thought, ‘here we go again.’”
Allgaier, 35, a perennial championship contender, is looking for his first win since Darlington Raceway last May. This marked his fifth runner-up finish in that time – but is his best showing of 2022.
“Proud of our team, we wanted to get the car in victory lane but with the string of bad luck, I feel like today was a good day, just a little bit short,’’ said Allgaier, who had finished 20th or worse in four of the five races leading into Dover.
Gragson’s fourth-place finish marked a solid end to a challenging day for the 23-year-old and earned him his $100,000 bonus check in the Dash 4 Cash program.
“What a day for the entire company, four cars in the top-five, and congratulations to Josh Berry for his win,’’ said Gragson, who added with a smile holding up the giant $100,000 cardboard Dash 4 Cash winner’s check, “My car was as fast as the Xfinity internet.’’
AJ Allmendinger finished sixth but retains the championship lead by 43 points over both two-race winner Gragson and three-race winner Gibbs.
Mayer’s fifth-place finish was impressive considering his eventful day. He won Stage 1 and then had a pit stop situation during the ensuing stop. His JR Motorsports Chevrolet lost a left-rear tire, and he ended up having to make an extra stop and eventually dropping back as far as 19th place before making his way forward again.
Saturday’s polesitter, Brandon Jones, rallied to a seventh-place finish after pit issues as well.
Richard Childress Racing’s Sheldon Creed was eighth – the highest finishing rookie with Riley Herbst and Ryan Sieg rounding out the top-10.
The series races next week at the historic Darlington Raceway in the Mahindra ROXOR 200 (Saturday, 1:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Allgaier is the defending race winner.
NOTE: There were no issues in the NASCAR Xfinity Series post-race inspection, confirming Berry as the winner. Allmendinger’s No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet had one lug nut not safe and secure.
Contributing staff reports.