Stewart-Haas Racing announced Wednesday that Josh Berry will be driving the No. 4 Mustang in the Cup Series next season, replacing Kevin Harvick as the veteran retires from the sport.
“I can’t imagine a better opportunity for me – to get in a car that’s been as successful and iconic as the No. 4,” Berry said.
Super-sub Berry already has Cup racing experience. He competed in ten races at NASCAR’s highest level, including eight this season replacing injured Hendrick Motorsports drivers.
“It’s also been very meaningful to get some opportunities in the Cup Series this year,” Berry said. “I’m proud of how they went, but I cannot wait to drive a Cup car that’s got my name on it.”
The 32-year-old impressed with a second-place run to Kyle Larson at Richmond Raceway while substituting for Chase Elliott. And he’s been no slouch in the Xfinity Series either, with five wins to his credit at JR Motorsports and a Championship Four run in the Playoffs last year.
“Josh Berry has proven himself in the Xfinity Series and this year showed how quickly he can adapt to the cars and the level of
competition in the NASCAR Cup Series,” said Stewart-Haas’ chief competition officer Greg Zipadelli.
“He’ll be a rookie in our racecar next year, but he drives like a veteran. He puts in the work to ensure that he’s always ready for the opportunities that come his way, and we’re very happy that his next opportunity is with Stewart-Haas Racing.”
Despite his success so far, Berry has big shoes to fill. Harvick’s been competing in NASCAR for 23 years. Since moving to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014, he’s racked up 37 wins and a championship to boot.
Co-owner Tony Stewart has confidence, though.
“Kevin Harvick has obviously set a very high bar,” Stewart said, “but Josh brings maturity, experience and, above all, a winning record to Stewart-Haas Racing. He is the right driver, at the right time, for the No. 4 team and our organization.”
“Kevin is a future NASCAR Hall of Famer,” Berry acknowledged, “and it’s going to be a challenge trying to come after someone so successful. But I know I’m going to have an amazing group of people around me, led by Rodney Childers, to where we can hit the ground running.”
4 car crew chief Rodney Childers has a connection with both Harvick and Berry through late model racing where all three got their start.
“I think one of the many things that’s made Kevin and I work so well together is our history in Late Model racing and our respect for it,” Childers said.
“Late Model racing is a really great proving ground, and Josh showed that he was the best of the best when it came to pavement Late Model racing. And when he got to the Xfinity Series, he kept on winning. To be the guy who will help Josh get his first Cup win is something I’m really looking forward to.”
Harvick, who recently purchased the late model CARS tour along with several other Cup Series personalities, echoed that sentiment.
“Josh is a really good example, and probably the best and most recent example, of applying all that he’s learned in Late Models to what he’s doing in the Xfinity Series,” explained Harvick. “That experience allowed him to be fast and successful right off the bat when he got to the Xfinity Series, and when he had his opportunities to race in the Cup Series earlier this year, he again showed speed and an ability to race at the front.”
Berry made the most of opportunities that presented themselves to get to that point. He worked in the JR Motorsports shop, having met Dale Earnhardt, Jr. himself through the iRacing simulation, before getting promoted with a part-time Xfinity Series ride with the team.
“I’m really proud of how I’ve gotten to this point and earned this opportunity,” Berry said. “I don’t like to use the word luck. It’s also been about preparation meeting opportunity.”
“Those years of racing and winning, and the people I was around and worked with, prepared me for the opportunities that I’ve gotten, and they’ve prepared me to capitalize on this opportunity with Stewart-Haas Racing. Even without knowing where it would ultimately take me, I’d do it all over again.”
“I’ve been very fortunate to race like I have, to have the support from all the people I have,” Berry said after his runner-up performance at Richmond. “In three years I went from racing late models, never thinking that I would ever race in the top three series, not least finish second in a Cup race.”
Berry does move to Stewart-Haas at a difficult time for the team. Despite a strong run at Martinsville that turned heads and suggested a resurgence, three of the team’s drivers sit outside the top-twenty in points. That’s not helped by a 120-point penalty awarded to Chase Briscoe for a counterfeit part. The team has responded by reshuffling crew chiefs and personnel.
But Berry can take solace in the strong performance of the No. 4 car. Bucking the trend, Harvick is currently fifth in the points standings.
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