Bedford Washed Out: Successful Shake Down at Port Royal
Port Royal, PA – May 3, 2021
by Addicted2Dirt PR & Media Management
It had been a long, tiring three weeks full of hard work since ABR loaded up their bent Rocket XR1 at Selinsgrove Speedway after getting caught up in someone else’s mess. In that span of time, the team found a lightly used, one year newer Rocket chassis, made a multi-day trip to Georgia for a family commitment, and assembled the newer car piece by piece. It took a final push in the shop, one that included a lot of helping hands from another team over the final days, to be ready to load up just in time to head to Bedford Speedway on Friday, April 30th for their scheduled $8,500 to win show. It was a big effort for a small team.
Unfortunately Mother Nature rained on their return, washing out the big ULMS show on Friday, April 30th at the old fairgrounds speedway. On the bright side, Berry would get to shake down the new car the next night at the track where he has the most laps in a super late model, Port Royal Speedway.
A stout field of 38 cars signed in at “The Speed Palace” Saturday night. The program called for a dual heats with passing points, a format used once or twice each season to create a unique show. In this format, each heat race is split into two 6-lap segments. The initial lineup is set by a pill draw, then after 6 laps, points are awarded based on where a car started vs. where it finished. Next, the original starting lineup is inverted and the field runs another 6 laps, after which points are awarded again in the same manner.
Austin started on the pole of the fourth heat and pulled out to a healthy lead until the caution flag waved with two laps remaining in the first segment. On the restart, a desperation slider into turn one by the second place car pushed Berry to the wall to avoid contact. He recovered, but Dan Stone slipped by both cars to grab the lead. Austin held on to finish 2nd to Stone. The second segment inversion saw Berry start 8th and methodically work his way to 4th in the quick 6-lap race. Lap times showed Berry was turning the fastest laps in the field during that final segment. It’s good news when your car works in clean air. It’s great news when it works in traffic.
The qualifying effort was good enough to place Berry 8th in points, meaning he would start the feature event from outside row 4. The feature lineup was loaded with notable northeast late model names like the Eckert, Robinson, Yoder, Suhler, Rine, Winters, Covert, Knaub, and several more. No late model show at Port Royal is easy these days.
“This car is definitely different than our old one. It’s looser. We have to tweak it to tighten it up just a bit. Our old car was exactly the opposite even though every part we bolted on this car came off the old one.“, Berry explained as he shrugged. He was also grinning as he shared that insight. Maybe that’s because ‘loose’ is fun to drive…and maybe it’s because he knows ABR has something in this car they can definitely work with.
On the initial start of the feature, Berry surged around the top into 6th. Only a couple laps into the 25-lap main event, the caution appeared. On the ensuing restart, which utilized the ‘Delaware Double File’ method, Berry had to start on the inside line. This is because in this restart procedure, the leader lines up out front all alone, then the second place car chooses whether he wants inside or outside of the second row. From there, all even numbered positions follow his choice and all odd numbered positions take the opposite line. Trapped down low, Berry lost a couple positions over the next lap or two.
Over the remaining 22 laps, there were three more restarts. Despite another inside line restart with 10 laps remaining, Austin managed to stay in the fight. With only a fraction of a second separating the back half of the top 10, Berry floated between 7th and 9th positions, claiming 8th for good with 4 laps remaining.
Austin and the entire ABR team were all smiles following their run. You could feel the positive energy in the pit as Berry recapped their night. “Hell of a night for all the work that happened in the last two weeks. We spent more time the whole night working on making me comfortable in the cockpit than we did working on the setup of the car. I feel the hard work ahead of time at the shop showed in the speed of the car. The team all worked extremely hard and were able to give me a pretty damn good car for the feature. Everyone worked well together. Every time I came off the track, I had a list of things I wanted done and the whole team went to work. It was a pretty solid night for our first night out with a new car and it was the first time this year we have been able to put an entire night together. We heat raced well and were able to stay up front in the feature.“, Berry commented with a happy and confident tone in his voice.
That tone is likely because he knows this was just a shake down. Now they will go back to the shop armed with some data and knowledge about this car that will help them be even more ready for the next race. Certainly seems fair for Berry to be optimistic when you think about it that way.
The next time ABR unloads the Berry’s Siding & Seamless Gutter, Locust Hill Custom Butcher Shop, Addicted2DirtPR.com, Nathan Berry Beef Farm, A&C Racing Engines, Ontime Body & Graphic, Swift Springs, Hoosier Tire Mid-Atlantic, VP Racing Fuels, Rocket Chassis XR1 No.86, they will be back at Port Royal Speedway with the ULMS on Saturday, May 8th to see if they can build on their recent momentum.
AUSTIN BERRY RACING
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Young fan AJ stopped by to congratulate Austin after the feature at Port Royal on Saturday night and the two had a fun chat! Austin appreciated his visit and thanked him with an autographed t-shirt!
More Photos from Port Royal
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