For the third year in a row, Josh Berry will feature a member of the JR Motorsports family on his Late Model Stock for the CARS Tour Throwback 276 at Hickory Motor Speedway.
But this time, it’s the team’s namesake himself — Dale Earnhardt Jr.
For the annual event that features retro paint schemes and legendary luminaries in attendance, Berry will drive a No. 31 Late Model that resembles the Busch Grand National Series entry Earnhardt drove during his rookie season in 1997.
That season, Earnhardt started eight races at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville, Watkins Glen, Gateway Motorsports Park, Michigan International Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Auto Club Speedway, Rockingham Speedway and Homestead Miami Speedway. His best finish came at Michigan with a seventh.
It’s worth noting that Earnhardt did make his debut a season earlier at Myrtle Beach, but he used his rookie eligibility in 1997. He captured back-to-back championships in 1998 and 1999.
As for Berry, he spotlighted Kelley Earnhardt-Miller and LW Miller paint schemes during the first two seasons, but the 2017 champion knows this is one that is going to be special to a lot of people.
“I am really excited to be running one of Dale’s cars for the throwback weekend,” Berry said. “Dale single-handedly changed my career and life by choosing me to drive for him, so it’s a big honor to drive one of his paint schemes.
“I really enjoyed the late 90s era of Busch Grand National cars, and this car was one of his first he raced in 1997. I’m thankful that Mark and All Things Automotive were willing to work with us to make it happen.”
Earnhardt and Berry became acquainted while racing against each other on the internet and the NASCAR star began following Berry’s career in Pro Trucks and Legend Cars at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville.
Earnhardt eventually hired Berry to drive his Late Model Stock and the two have been very successful together. They won the CARS Tour owners title in 2016, a Hickory Motor Speedway track championship in 2014 and a Motor Mile track championship in 2014.
And now, one year after taking L.W. Miller’s paint scheme to Victory Lane in the Throwback 276, Berry hopes to do the same for his other boss, Earnhardt himself.
Berry is the current CARS Tour Late Model Stock championship leader, holding a 12-point lead over defending champion Bobby McCarty.
The Throwback 276 will feature 138-lap green flag races for both the Super Late Models and the Late Model Stock divisions. The 276 total laps matches the 1971 and 1972 distance the NASCAR Cup Series ran at the .363 mile track.
In addition to the race distance; a special red, white, and blue throwback “CARS Tour Late Model Series” logo will be used on all branding, including special CARS Tour official uniforms and various tour merchandise that will be made available.
The race can be attended live or watched online via a CARSTour.TV monthly subscription.