Josh Berry christened Hickory Motor Speedway’s newest crown jewel event with a dominant performance in Saturday’s Jack Ingram Memorial 111.
After passing Ryan Millington shortly before the halfway point, not a single driver could touch Berry, who proceeded to easily hold off his JR Motorsports teammate Carson Kvapil for another victory in his storied Late Model Stock career.
By winning the Jack Ingram Memorial 111, Berry now has victories in every single active crown jewel at Hickory that includes the Fall Brawl and Bobby Isaac Memorial. Berry’s accomplishments at Hickory also include a track championship back in 2014
Below are the key takeaways from Berry’s victory in the Jack Ingram Memorial 111 at Hickory Motor Speedway.
Josh Berry still efficient in Late Model Stocks
Despite being familiar with Hickory and having boss Dale Earnhardt Jr. as the grand marshal for the Jack Ingram Memorial 111, Berry was initially unsure if his car would be strong enough to win Saturday’s feature.
Berry admitted to feeling rusty with his NASCAR Xfinity Series commitments keeping him away from Late Model Stock competition, but he quickly found his groove after settling into his rhythm and pulling away from the rest of the field during the second half of the Jack Ingram Memorial 111.
“By no means is it easy to run these races,” Berry said. “Every time I come and do this, it’s a little bit harder. I felt pretty good about our car in practice. It didn’t have the speed I wanted, but the longevity and feel that I wanted. You just never know how these races are going to play out.”
It’s another dominant evening for @joshberry in Late Model Stocks.
— NASCAR Roots (@NASCARRoots) June 12, 2022
Berry knew tire conservation was going to be important in a longer race at Hickory like the Jack Ingram Memorial 111, but he elected to push earlier than normal after two early multi-car accidents eliminated several cars from contention.
Once he was able to set his own pace at the front and fully utilize the clear air in front of him, Berry was able to cruise to Victory Lane and celebrate in front of one of the largest crowds he had ever seen at Hickory.
Berry said Saturday evening’s event would not have been possible without the hard work Hickory general manager Kevin Piercy, Dale Jr. and everyone else put in to make the Jack Ingram Memorial 111 a success in its first year.
“[Jack] is an amazing racer,” Berry said. “To win the first race in his honor is amazing. Hopefully this is something we can continue for years, but I think we all need to thank Dale Earnhardt Jr. for coming here. We had an amazing crowd, so to see all the hard work that went into making this happen pay off was pretty cool.”
Layne Riggs finishes third after wild evening
The Jack Ingram Memorial 111 was slightly more eventful than Layne Riggs had anticipated when he took the green flag on Saturday evening.
After pitting from the front to tighten up his car, Riggs ended up getting involved in two separate on-track accidents but still managed to methodically work his way through the field and come home with a solid third-place finish.
“At the beginning of the race, I thought we were way too loose,” Riggs said. “I had to use more tire to stay where I wanted to, so we made the bold move to pit since it was a long race. It was just a brutal race, and I hated to see so many cars get tore up, but we worked our way back up to the front.”
Riggs said it was the right call to come in early and make those adjustments with Saturday’s race being 111 laps in length. The risk led to Riggs having to overcome additional adversity, but he felt that simply staying out would have relegated him to back half of the Top 10 once the checkered flag flew.
A bad night is something Riggs cannot afford, as he is still in contention for his first NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series national title. He entered the Jack Ingram Memorial second in the standings just 42 points behind Peyton Sellers.
Riggs is confident he can erase that deficit and challenge Sellers for the title, but he said settling for top fives will not be enough for him to accomplish that goal.
“We’re just going to have to win races,” Riggs said. “A third was a good points night, but hopefully we can get us some wins. It was good that we had a full field [on Saturday], but we have nine wins so far and we need nine more. We’ve got until September to get those wins.”
Isabella Robusto leads early, finishes sixth
A sixth-place finish for Isabella Robusto in the Jack Ingram Memorial 111 did not properly reflect the stellar evening she had at Hickory.
Robusto managed to qualify on the outside of the front row and briefly paced the field during the opening laps, but she said being more conservative early on would have given her a better chance against Josh Berry, Carson Kvapil and the rest of the front runners.
“To have a chance at the win, I knew I had to stay in front of Josh [Berry],” Robusto said. “I got out there and ran out front as hard as I could, but I think I used a little too much tires at the beginning. That cost us at the end, but we’re getting stronger with every race, and I feel a win coming for sure.”
A member of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program, Robusto has gradually been gaining more experience at tracks all around the East Coast that include Hickory, South Boston Speedway and Tri-County Motor Speedway.
Robusto believes she is much smoother on the pedals and more efficient with her exits now compared to her first Late Model Stock appearance and believes that knowledge has enabled her to become more consistent regardless of where she races.
Her performance in the Jack Ingram Memorial 111 has only given Robusto more confidence in herself as a driver. While she was disappointed Saturday did not yield a better finish, Robusto plans to build upon the knowledge obtained from that race as she looks to finally visit Victory Lane.
“I’ve just got to put all the pieces together,” Robusto said. “I’m figuring it all out right now. I had a pretty good run going [on Saturday], but I just need to save a little bit more. I definitely feel that these next few races are going to go pretty good.”
- Current Hickory Motor Speedway points leader Landon Huffman, who sits fifth in the Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series national standings, endured an eventful evening that saw him suffer a flat tire and get involved in an accident. Huffman still managed to salvage a decent showing with an eighth-place run.
- Kevin Harvick Inc. Management driver Brent Crews was among the 26 cars that took the green flag in Saturday’s Jack Ingram Memorial 111. Crews avoided trouble for most of the evening and came home seventh, one lap behind race-winner Josh Berry.
- Also in the field was Clark Houston, who is the son of Andy Houston and grandson of Tommy Houston, both of whom are former Hickory track champions. Unfortunately for Clark, his night ended after just four laps when he was involved in an accident not of his making.