If the Bobby Isaac Memorial 150 signified the start of big race season in the fall, Josh Berry established himself as the favorite moving forward with a big victory on Saturday night at Hickory Motor Speedway in North Carolina.
Berry took the lead from Justin Carroll on a Lap 100 restart and never looked back, spearheading a 1-2 sweep for JR Motorsports ahead of teammate Anthony Alfredo. Carroll led the middle stages of the race but faded to third over the final five laps.
Berry has been the winningest driver at Hickory over the past decade and has finally captured a victory in the track’s signature event. He had previously won the Fall Brawl and numerous CARS Tour events at The Birthplace of the NASCAR Stars.
But this one was especially notable because it came in one of the most star-studded fields of the season with the likes of Lee Pulliam, Philip Morris, Ty Gibbs and Landon Huffman all making one-offs at the 0.363-mile speedway.
“We’ve had a lot of speed this year and we’ve always been good at places like Martinsville, Myrtle Beach and Southern National and there’s only a few tracks that I don’t feel like we’ve figured out,” Berry said in Victory Lane. “These worn out places are our best track. We have some work to do at high speed, high grip tracks but overall, I feel like we’re in a pretty good spot heading into these bigger races.
“We’re hitting our stride and I think we showed that tonight.”
Berry qualified third but fell to fifth in the first 10 laps. He methodically worked his way through the top-5 and was running second before the Lap 94 caution for Annabeth Barnes-Crum spinning out of Turn 2.
The ensuing restart provided him the opening he needed to clear Carroll out of Turn 2.
“It’s always so hard to tell how much guys are using their tires,” Berry said. “But around halfway, I could tell they were starting to slip a little bit. I felt like I was in a good spot.
“The hard part is just knowing when to go. I felt like 50 to go was a good spot to see what I had and we had enough.”’
Ty Gibbs scored the pole and led the first 86 laps, but the 14-year-old was the first casualty of using up his tires, based on his aggressive restarts and massive leads.
Carroll got around him on Lap 87 and led until the Lap 100 restart.
Alfredo got around Carroll with five laps remaining and was just happy to complete the 1-2 sweep for JR Motorsports at their home track.
“We were too free to catch Josh, honestly,” Alfredo said. “It just took us awhile to get going there. We would get challenged on the outside and get pinched and that made me free-er. We were lucky to get to second once we got going.
“We might have had enough if we had a restart but I’m really content to finish 1-2 because that’s great for the team.”
Meanwhile, Carroll was pleased to finish third behind two JR Motorsports cars and have outdueled a car prepared by Joe Gibbs Racing.
“We’re just family team,” Carroll said. “So to be in the same ballpark as these guys and to outrun Lee Pulliam and even Philip Morris, that’s cool to me They came into our yard and we held them off.
“So we’ll take a third-place and learn from it, and get better.”
Pulliam and Morris both made their Hickory Motor Speedway debuts on Saturday night. Morris made the trip south because Motor Mile Speedway canceled earlier in the afternoon due to the remnants of Hurricane Harvey.
Pulliam is chasing NASCAR national points with his home track of Myrtle Beach Speedway off this weekend.
Pulliam finished seventh, while Morris was involved in a Lap 7 crash and rallied to a P11 debut. The complete results of the 41st Bobby Isaac Memorial 150 can be found below.
- Josh Berry
- Anthony Alfredo
- Justin Carroll
- Will Burns
- Ryan Millington
- Ty Gibbs
- Lee Pulliam
- Landon Huffman
- Sam Mayer
- Thomas Beane
- Philip Morris
- Matt Leicht
- Juan Gonzalez
- Charlie Watson
- Thomas Scott
- William Lester
- Cole Glasson
- Tomas Gasperak
- Annabeth Barnes-Crum
- Kevin Leicht