Berry’s Dominant Heat Race Run Erased by Part Failure
Crew’s Hustle Puts Team in the Show
Mifflin, PA – Aug 9, 2021
by Addicted2Dirt PR & Media Management
Feature Photo Credit: Apex Media
The ABR team has improved almost every aspect of their program this season and it shows. Austin Berry has been consistently fast since mid-June. So, he must have some great stats to go along with that, right?
Well…unfortunately, no. Allow me to explain.
Yes, he does have a victory at Port Royal Speedway that he captured against a stout field in thrilling fashion, but otherwise he has a lot of ‘close but no cigar’ nights. What Berry has is the foundation for a team that will consistently finish in the top five, as soon as they can catch a couple breaks. Luck hasn’t exactly been on their side lately, but the team is not dwelling on that. They are focused on the many positives in their pit area this season.
About a month ago, Berry was about to log a podium finish when a freak water pump issue occurred, ending his night in the turn 4 fence. On another night, an untimely caution changed the course of Berry’s night by making the hill a little harder to climb. Still, nobody in the ABR pit got down. The bigger picture was clear. They were competitive and just needed to keep digging, put whole nights together, and the breaks would come.
Saturday night, August 7th, Austin and the ABR team rolled into Port Royal Speedway to take another shot at putting it all together. They were one of 28 teams signed in for competition. The field was split into three, 8-lap heat races, with the top six finishers transferring to the feature and the top three being handicapped. Berry was slated to start 3rd in heat number three.
When Berry returned to his pit after hot laps, the crew discovered a small water leak. A quick investigation showed the water pump gasket had split and was allowing a small stream of water to escape. The crew hustled and was able to pull the water pump, replace the gasket, refill the water and test the repair before heat race action.
From the drop of the green flag in his heat race, Berry was on the move. He surged to the lead by the time the field exited turn two on lap three. Berry began to pull away as Trevor Feathers moved into 2nd. As Berry flashed under the flag stand to complete lap five, he held a 1.1 second lead over Feathers, but disaster struck off turn two as water sprayed from the engine compartment, nearly causing Berry to lose control. Instead of claiming victory, he was forced to the pits, officially logging a 9th place finish.
Initially the night appeared to be over for ABR. However, over the course of the next hour, Berry and his team figured out what they believed was the root cause of their continuing water pump issues, then scrambled to make repairs in time to take a test lap during the one window of opportunity speedway officials were going to permit. Following a successful test of the repairs, the team feverishly prepared shocks and tires to take their final shot at making the field for the night’s feature event.
Austin started 9th in the 8-lap B-main. Only six cars were to transfer to the main event, so Berry would need to get ‘up on the wheel’. He wasted no time doing so, surging past four cars and into 5th place on lap one. From there, Berry smartly chipped away to ensure he was solidly in a transfer position. He was able to finish 4th and secure the 22nd starting spot in the feature event.
In the 25-lap main event, Berry was able to make some forward progress through a lot of traffic and dirty air. He ultimately finished 18th. His lap times were solid but track position made it quite an uphill battle.
“Bottom line: We had a small issue early and we paid for it all night”, said Berry. “We were really fast in our heat race and would have been in a good starting spot for the feature, so yeah, it’s frustrating…but that’s racing. Things happen. The good news is, we found the root cause of our issue and were able to fix it, so that’s behind us now.“
Trips to Path Valley Speedway and Hagerstown Speedway are 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.
The team will compete with the ULMS at Path Valley on Friday, August 13th, then head to Hagerstown, Maryland on Saturday night for the 41-lap, $4100 to win Nathan Durboraw Tribute.
Photos from Port Royal Speedway 8-7-2021
AUSTIN BERRY RACING
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