Race 20 of 33: U.S. Cellular 250 at Iowa Speedway
Track Specs: .875-mile D-shaped oval
Weather: Clear, 71 degrees
Race Winner: Brad Keselowski
Berry's Finish: 12th
Josh Berry did a lot of things Saturday at Iowa Speedway. He qualified in the top 10, raced inside the top 15 and finished 12th in his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut. Most importantly for Berry, he earned a ton of respect by completing a successful 250-lap race on the tight .875-mile track.
In the early going, Berry settled into the top 15, racing his way to as high as ninth before bringing the No. 5 Tackle Grab Chevrolet to pit road for the first time at lap 53. Being his first-ever live pit stop under race conditions, Berry learned a lesson as he slid deep in his pit stall and dropped to 22nd before the ensuing restart at lap 58. The restart presented Berry the opportunity to either remain mired in traffic or fight his way back through the pack. Berry chose the latter, making bold moves, including an impressive three-wide pass through the middle to drive his way back into the top 15 by lap 82.
With the encouragement of crew chief Ernie Cope, Berry continued to race inside the top 15, constantly working to improve his line around the track to gain speed throughout the race. Berry’s persistence coupled with Cope’s consistent praise of the rookie driver’s efforts helped the No. 5 climb back to 12th before a late caution at lap 243.
The caution offered teams a final opportunity to visit pit road before a three-lap dash to the finish. Cope elected to give Berry fresh right-side tires, gaining his driver three positions to take the final restart ninth. The intense action in the final laps slid Berry back to his original 12th-place position at the checkered flag.
Brad Keselowski dominated the race, leading 146 laps for his third Nationwide Series victory of the season. Michael McDowell, Trevor Bayne, Sam Hornish Jr. and Ty Dillon rounded out the top five.
Josh Berry, driver No. 5 Tackle Grab team “I thought we had a pretty decent run. We just lost track position at the beginning of the race and that kind of put us back. Then I had to drive my butt off to get through the field and try to get it back. We just could never get up in the top 10. I felt like if we could have got up to the top 10, we would have been able to stay there. At the end, Ernie made a really good call for two tires. I thought we were going to squeak it out and hold those guys off. I just got too free the last lap and gave up a couple of spots. Overall, I thought it was a pretty successful race.”