HAMPTON, Ga. — Josh Berry was close. Just not close enough to make a move.
Berry trailed Austin Hill closely in the waning laps, trying to chase down the No. 21 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. But as his tires wore down and the field strung out, Berry had to settle for runner-up in Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco Uniforms 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway — his fourth top-four finish in the last five races.
“Austin was really good,” Berry told NASCAR.com. “That team has been really good on this style of racing and it was just tough. Right? You just had to time the runs right to get the bottom and he was really strong there. It cooled off a bit and kinda just got trained around the top. Lots of good information for me to go back and watch, learn from. And we’ll see what we can do better next time.”
Berry had a good enough car to pace the front of the field. He led 13 laps throughout the hot summer afternoon, but a pit-road miscue didn’t help the effort in an otherwise clean race.
“We had a really good car and we had a feeling that this race would be a little bit different than what we saw in the spring and I feel like that proved right,” Berry said. “So we prepared well and like I said, had a good day. We had a little slip up on pit road and had to work back from the back to the front, which was, I felt like really impressive, but ultimately that’s probably where we lost a little track position on [Austin Hill].”
Berry finished 33rd in the spring race, crashing out on Lap 153 of 172 — his only DNF of the season.
Saturday’s bounce-back performance served as a confidence booster and reassurance that the No. 8 JR Motorsports team, currently fifth in points, has made big strides down the stretch.
“We are right there with everybody,” Berry said. “On the bread and butter, you know, the intermediates, the short tracks, I think we’re as good as anybody. Obviously, the road racing is something that I’m learning and continuing to get better at. But I have no doubt that we can continue to build and get better and save our best races for the playoffs.”