Berry Fast Early, Finishes 13th at Port Royal
Another Top 10 Was Just One Break or Decision Away
Mifflin, PA – Aug 3, 2021
by Addicted2Dirt PR & Media Management
Austin Berry and the entire ABR team were relieved to finally get back to the racetrack after three long weeks of shop work and trips to partners in West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland to make sure their Berry’s Siding & Seamless Gutter, Locust Hill Custom Butcher Shop, Rocket Chassis XR1 was race-ready again following an unfortunate part failure and ensuing crash while running 3rd back on July 10th. They had found speed and were performing consistently in the weeks leading up to the crash. The looming question on their mind was whether the crash would set them back.
Group hot laps, which also served as timed qualifying, were used to establish heat lineups for the 31 cars on hand at Port Royal Speedway Saturday night, July 31st. Berry’s pill draw put him in Group 4, during which he proceeded to log the 2nd quickest lap in his group.
The qualifying effort was a solid start to the night, especially considering their last race three weeks prior ended in the fence with a heavily damaged racecar. It was reassuring to know their efforts to go over the car closely had paid off and they had not lost the speed they had prior to the crash.
The solid lap provided Berry with the 3rd starting spot in the 4th heat race. The top five would transfer to the A-main from each heat, with the top two participating in a redraw for the top eight starting spots in that feature event. During the opening laps of the 8-lap heat, Berry’s times got steadily quicker, and he closed in on 3rd place Andy Haus. Just past the halfway point of the race, Berry got a big run off turn two and down the backstretch. He was in the process of completing the pass on Haus when the caution lights flashed on as the pair dove into turn three. The caution meant the restart lineup would revert to the last completed lap, putting Berry’s No.86 behind Haus. Following the restart, Berry was unable to mount a challenge again and settled for a 4th place finish.
If you don’t think every position counts in qualifying and in heat races, consider this. If not for the untimely caution in his heat race, assuming Berry would have then finished 3rd, he would have started 12th in the feature event. Instead, he started 16th. In a 25-lap feature event, passing six cars to get to the top 10 instead of two is a much taller order, especially with the level of competition in the field at Port Royal on a regular basis.
Fans don’t always consider the strategy and decisions teams must make related to where they start, the length of the race, track conditions, etc. All those things and more determine tire choice, how aggressive the driver must be early in the race, and several other things as well. Ultimately, Berry was able to move forward early in the event Saturday night, but his progress eventually stalled, and he settled for a 13th place finish.
“We just didn’t put the whole night together”, a mildly disappointed Berry commented, reflecting on his evening. “We were fast early but the track was a little different tonight and we didn’t make the right adjustments to keep up with it. We took a gamble with our feature setup, but it didn’t work out like we hoped. I tried to adjust my corner entry a few different ways during the middle part of the feature, but couldn’t find anything the car liked.“
Berry shared some insights on starting deeper in the field as well.
“Every row deeper we are in the starting lineup means two more cars making the air even dirtier in front of us, and further narrowing our lane choice on corner entry. As a driver, you have to wait to see where everyone in front of you is going, then make your choice to make sure you have air on the nose of the car, and a line that gives you a chance to advance“, Berry explained.
Next up for Austin Berry and 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 Port Royal Speedway again on August 7th.
Photos from Port Royal Speedway 7-31-2021
AUSTIN BERRY RACING
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