Two Steps Forward, One Step Back for ABR

Selinsgrove Delivers Setback; Williams Grove Washed Out

Selinsgrove, PA – April 12, 2021

by Addicted2Dirt PR & Media Management

In recent weeks, performance has been trending the right direction for Austin Berry Racing.  The Berry’s Siding & Seamless Gutter, Locust Hill Custom Butcher Shop,, 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 has responded to recent changes.  For Austin, the feel he was looking for was almost entirely back and consistency finally existed again.  All the team wanted out of their April 9th/10th double-header weekend with the United Late Model Series (ULMS) was to continue that trend.  


During the week, the team investigated the engine miss that had arisen in the closing laps of the race at Port Royal Speedway on April 3rd.  Fortunately nothing serious was uncovered.  It appeared the ignition coil was going bad, so as part of necessary maintenance and to ensure they covered all bases, they replaced the coil, spark plugs, fuel pressure regulator and fuel filter, any of which could have resulted in similar symptoms.  A test fire of the engine proved the issue was resolved and they could turn their focus to preparing for the double-header weekend ahead.


Friday night at Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, PA they never got the chance to continue their recent momentum and improve on the 11th place finish Austin had recorded a few weeks prior on his first trip to the legendary oval.  The day had a promising afternoon and evening forecast, but a persistent mist developed in the late afternoon, which led to the cancellation of the event around 6pm, less than an hour before hot laps were scheduled to occur.  


Twenty four hours later the team was one of twenty three ULMS teams unloaded at Selinsgrove Speedway in Selinsgrove, PA.  Austin was the 11th car to go under the clock for qualifying.  He recorded the 15th quickest time in the field, which placed him in the 5th starting spot in heat number three.  After one competitor was unable to make the call for the third heat, Berry was able to take the green from the 4th spot.  Despite experiencing an issue with the right front of the car bottoming out, he was able to finish 3rd in the heat race.  The issue with bottoming out was something that had surfaced the previous week but the team had made adjustments they believed would resolve the issue.


The team huddled to plan for the 30-lap feature, in which Austin would roll off 9th.  Their expectation was that the track would dry out a little, so they made their tire choice and adjustments accordingly, along with further adjustments to address the bottoming issue.


By the time we completed our pace laps before the green flag for the feature, I was pretty sure we had made the wrong tire choice.“, shared Austin Berry from the team’s shop the following morning.  “The track had held more moisture throughout the show than we expected.  At that point, I was just hoping once we got enough heat in the tires, they would start working.” 


Berry’s concern was realized when the green flag dropped and he slipped back four spots during the first two laps of the event..  His tires just weren’t ‘hooking up’ and it was costing him.  By lap 4 the tires had heated up and kicked in.  His lap times reflected the difference and Austin started to recover and run down the cars that had gotten by at the start.  He got back by one competitor and was battling a couple more when the caution lights flashed on with 11 laps complete.  


The ULMS uses what is known as the “Delaware Double File” lineup on restarts.  This means the leader is out front all alone, while the remainder of the field lines up double-file behind the leader.  The ensuing restart, which found Austin lined up in 12th, on the inside of row 7 didn’t play out well.  Wanting to capitalize on the restart, Berry was glued to the back of the car in front of him, Ken Trevitz, as the field headed into turn one.  Unfortunately, a car on the outside just in front of Berry, turned down and made contact with Trevitz, leading to a chain reaction.  Fortunately, thanks to quick thinking, Berry was able to spin his car and avoid contact, sliding sideways to a stop next to Trevitz.  Unfortunately, one of the cars behind Austin didn’t manage the same accomplishment and instead made heavy contact with the left front of Berry’s car, then rotated and contacted the left rear of his No.86 as well.  


The incident would end the night for ABR.  It didn’t take long to determine the damage was pretty extensive.  The front clip of Berry’s Rocket XR1 chassis was bent.  This was definitely going to mean a step backward from all the progress the team had been making, not only in terms of tonight’s result but also in terms of their finances.  This would definitely put a dent in the budget.  Replacing the bent front clip is expensive and will require tearing down the car, pulling the motor, and taking a trip to Rocket Racing in West Virginia.


Looking back on the incident, Berry shared, “I’m certainly not happy about it, but these things happen.  It’s part of racing.  I really thought the car behind us could have missed hitting us, but it’s behind us now and we have to focus on the work we have to do to get back to the track.”  Austin continued, “It’s really frustrating because the tires had just come in and I know we could have driven back into the top 10 in the remaining 19 laps.”  


The competition is so close, every decision made by the teams can be critical.  Would Austin have been ahead of the accident had they made a different tire choice?  Maybe.  Would he have been better off than the competition late in the race with the tire compound he chose?  Maybe.  None of us will ever know.  That’s just one of the things that makes this sport so challenging.  It also makes it rewarding when you get it right.


ABR was already planning to take the next couple weekends off, but now there will be a lot of unplanned work and expense during those off weeks.  The goal is to be ready to head to Bedford Speedway on Friday, April 30th for the $8,500 to win, ULMS sanctioned, Billy Winn 85th Anniversary Classic, but that could be challenging.  Stay tuned to all the social media outlets below for updates from ABR.


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