After choosing to start from the rear of the field, Josh Berry worked his way to the front and captured a victory in the Cosmo Motors Fall Brawl 200 at Hickory Motor Speedway on Saturday night.
Originally, Berry was scheduled to start from the pole. In typical Fall Brawl fashion, Berry was given the choice to voluntarily start at the rear of the field for the chance to win an additional $1,000 if he won the race. After some hesitation and giving the fans in attendance a voice, the veteran Late Model Stock driver decided he was up for the challenge.
It took Berry just 50 laps to reach the top-five and remained in there for the rest of the race. He made the winning pass around JR Motorsports teammate Sam Mayer with 42 laps to go and never looked back.
“I have to give credit to my guys,” Berry said after the race. “We had an incredible car. Our cars are great here. It makes it so much easier on me. At halfway, we made some little adjustments and made the car better. We were just trying to bide our time.
“We had an issue with the throttle there at the end. I think one of the springs broke on the pedal. I was sweating bullets those last 70 laps because I swear it was going to break. Luckily, everything held together.”
When the green flag fell at Hickory, Berry decided his best option would be to hang out in the back of the field, but after the caution flag flew for an accident between Thomas Beane and Bryson Dennis on Lap 9, he began his progress towards the front of the field.
By Lap 35, Berry had worked his way into the top-10. By Lap 50, he reached the top-5.
While Berry was working his way towards the front, Jacob Heafner and Austin McDaniel were battling it out at the front of the field. Ultimately, Heafner was able to garner the race lead and set the pace of the field.
On Lap 64, McDaniel was able to pass Heafner on a restart, but Mayer, was on his way to challenge for the lead. Mayer assumed the race lead on Lap 94 and lead the field toward the 10-minute halfway break. McDaniel, Berry, Heafner and Ty Gibbs rounded out the top-five at the break.
During the break, the overall consensus amongst the top runners was to save their tires for the final laps of the race.
After 10 minutes of adjustments, the Fall Brawl 200 went back under green flag conditions on Lap 104. McDaniel was able to gain the lead momentarily by using the outside lane. However, Mayer regained the lead just two laps later.
The caution flag was unfurled for the final time on Lap 124 for a spin in Turn 2. When the race returned to green flag conditions, Mayer and McDaniel were beating and banging for the top spot. After a four-lap battle, McDaniel fell back behind Mayer.
Despite settling into second on Lap 137, McDaniel was passed by Berry on Lap 142 coming off of Turn 4. By Lap 158, the rest was history as Berry passed Mayer going into Turn 1.
Berry led the remaining 42 laps to become the winningest driver of the Fall Brawl by surpassing Matt McCall and Scott Kilby with three wins. The veteran late model driver became the second driver to accept the $1,000 challenge and win the race.
Despite not winning the Fall Brawl, Mayer was proud that JR Motorsports was able to take the top-two spots. He believed that if he would have saved his tires earlier in the second half of the race, he could challenge Berry for the win.
“I mean, what are you going to do about it?” Mayer said. “Josh saved his tires a lot better than I did, and I wasn’t really thinking about saving as much, as I haven’t needed to save here as much in the past. I just missed it on that end, and if I didn’t, I probably would have been in victory circle. A 1-2 JR Motorsports finish is still pretty awesome.”
McDaniel held on to the third position. Heafner finished fourth and won his first Late Model track championship. Zach Bruenger rounded out the top-five. The full rundown can be found below.
- Josh Berry
- Sam Mayer
- Austin McDaniel
- Jacob Heafner
- Zachary Bruenger
- Ty Gibbs
- Charlie Watson
- Mike Darne
- Cole Glasson
- Ryan Repko
- Jeremy Pelfrey
- Terry Brooks
- Bryson Dennis
- Carter Davison
- Grayson Cullather
- Mitch Walker
- Nik Williams
- Austin Green
- Thomas Beane
- Tyler Gregory
- Justin Crider
- Justin Carroll