Disaster Strikes Two Laps Short of Podium Finish
Mifflin, PA – July 13, 2021
by Addicted2Dirt PR & Media Management
Four weeks had passed since the last super late model race at Port Royal Speedway. Scheduling and weather combined to create the longest gap of the season. It was an excruciatingly long gap for Austin Berry, who wanted nothing more than to get back behind the wheel after his June 12th victory at “The Speed Palace”. The hard fought victory was his first in a super late model, and his new goal was to prove it was no fluke.
Saturday night, July 10th, 29 teams descended on Port Royal Speedway to compete for the $3,000 top prize. The speedway used the dual 6-lap heat format to set the starting lineup for the night’s main event. In the format, a random draw is used to set the heat race lineups and drivers earn passing points based on their finishing position vs. their starting position. After 6 laps, the starting lineup is inverted and the field races another 6 laps, once again earning points at the conclusion.
Berry started 5th in both heat race segments and finished 2nd and 5th respectively, earning his team enough points to start 7th in the A-main later in the program. In his first heat race, Berry was on the charge from the drop of the green, able to run varied lines to make passes. In his second heat race, he was able to move forward on the start, holding the 4th spot for a few laps before being forced high in turn two while working on 3rd. The line he was forced to take allowed Jeff Rine to slip by on the low side, dropping Berry back to 5th where he ultimately finished.
Factoring in their starting position and the ever-changing track conditions, ABR made their setup and tire choices just prior to rolling out for the 25-lap feature event. During the opening laps, Berry slipped backward from 7th to 10th in the running order but he didn’t panic. The choices the team had made were made for the long run, so he just needed to stay focused on the task at hand.
By the time the caution lights flashed on with nine laps complete, Berry had recovered to 7th position. Through two more cautions on laps eleven and twelve, Berry maintained his position, gaining one spot through attrition. With eight laps remaining, Berry was on the rear bumper of Gary Stuhler and Colton Flinner as the trio competed for spots 5-7. In turn four, with Stuhler on the bottom and Flinner high, Berry split the pair, taking the 6th spot away from Flinner and challenging Stuhler for 5th as they entered turn one. The pair would swap positions twice over the next couple laps.
On lap 21, Berry used the high side to power past Stuhler and Dillan Stake to claim the 3rd position behind leader Jeff Rine and 2nd running Dylan Yoder. Through a hard-fought main event, Berry was positioned to register a podium finish and show the Port Royal crowd that he and his team are capable of running up front consistently and June 12th was no fluke.
Then, disaster. Coming through turns three and four to receive the 2-to-go sign, the water pump broke, causing water to coat the front tires. Unable to steer his No.86 machine, Berry slid into the outside fence, abruptly and harshly ending his great run. He was officially credited with a 17th place finish, but that certainly didn’t tell the whole store by itself.
“How can I be mad?“, asked car owner and Austin’s father, Ken Berry. “It was just a crazy, fluke thing. Yeah, we’re gonna have some bills to pay and a lot of work to do the next week or two, but we’re running well and Austin is doing a great job behind the wheel”, Berry commented. “We’re confident in him and he’s confident in the car, so we are in a good place right now. We just need to get this thing fixed up and get back to the track as soon as we can so we don’t lose our momentum.“
Given the damage caused by the impact with the outside fence, the Berry’s Siding & Seamless Gutter, Locust Hill Custom Butcher Shop, Addicted2DirtPR.com, Nathan Berry Beef Farm, A&C Racing Engines, JDS Racing, Ontime Body & Graphic, Swift Springs, Penske Racing Shocks, Hoosier Tire Mid-Atlantic, VP Racing Fuels, Rocket Chassis XR1 will be out of action this weekend. Plans to race at Hagerstown Speedway have unfortunately been scrapped. The team will spend their time making repairs and going over the car thoroughly to make sure they find any component that was affected by the crash. Berry and team indicated they have a 50/50 shot to be ready for Selinsgrove Speedway’s super late model show on July 24th but they expect to return to action at Port Royal Speedway on July 31st, if not sooner.
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Photos from Port Royal Speedway 7-10-2021
AUSTIN BERRY RACING
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