Positives Emerge from Challenging Day
Port Royal, PA – April 12, 2022
by Addicted2Dirt PR & Media Management
Feature Photo Credit: Apex Media
If you’re competing against the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series, you can’t have anything go wrong. You can’t make a mistake. The field is too deep to back your way into the finale.
Five minutes into Austin Berry’s day at Port Royal Speedway, a part of him had to be thinking “let’s just load up, we’re done”. Why? As he took to the track for his hot lap session, something went wrong mechanically. It wasn’t clear exactly what at first, but back in the pits the diagnosis was a blown power steering line.
With only minutes to get in line for their spot in time trials, the Austin Berry Racing team went into high gear. What likely appeared to some to be chaos was actually an organized, high speed repair involving at least a half-dozen crew members. They did miss their spot in line, but they made it in time to join the end of the line and get the opportunity to run one lap under the clock. The lap, 15th quickest in group two, wasn’t up to their standards but at least they still had a chance to get in the show, even if it was slim.
April 10: River Valley 40 / Port Royal Speedway / Port Royal, PA
(37 cars, Qualifying 15th, Heat 7th, B-main 4th, A-main 20th)
Earlier that day the Central Pennsylvania high-banked half-mile track had rain, sleet and snow flurries blowing across its surface. Against the odds, the afternoon brought 37 super late models, some moments of sunshine, and racing.
Following Berry’s scramble to get a qualifying lap in the books, he regrouped and rolled out 8th for the fourth and final 8-lap heat race. The top four finishers would transfer directly to the A-main, while the remainder of the field would race for one of three final transfer spots in a B-main. Berry managed to advance as far as 6th briefly but after a torrid battle with Garrett Alberson and Dylan Yoder, Berry settled for a 7th place finish.
“It’s too bad we were buried deep in the starting lineup for that race because of our earlier issue. That was one of the best handling cars I’ve ever had here“, Berry said as he climbed out of The Tire Mart / JDS Racing / Berry’s Siding & Seamless Gutter / Locust Hill Custom Butcher Shop / Nathan Berry Beef Farm / A&C Racing Engines / Swift Springs / Kevin Nouse Designs – K1 Race Gear / Addicted2DirtPR.com / Penske Racing Shocks / Hoosier Tire Mid-Atlantic / DirtCarLifts / VP Racing Fuels / Rocket Chassis XR1 No.86.
Austin Berry was three spots away from a major recovery for his day. If he could move from his 6th starting spot in the 10-lap B-main into the top three, he could still put his team in the show after an unfortunate start to their day. He wasted no time charging into 4th by lap two. He then set his sights on Hudson O’Neal, who held down the 3rd and final transfer position. Berry worked high and low trying to find a way to get to O’Neal. As the checkered flag fell on the event, Austin found himself just 0.5 seconds out of that 3rd and final transfer spot.
All the hard work had not all been fruitless though. They found themselves in position to earn the track provisional into the evening’s finale. The track provisional is awarded to the team highest in the speedway’s season point standings that did not transfer into the feature event. The team’s entire season of hard work that had propelled them into 4th place in the season standings, paid off in that moment.
“First off, I have to give a huge thank you to my crew. How they diagnosed the issue, removed the power steering line, installed a new line, and got me rolling again in time to take a qualifying lap is amazing to me. That was a significant effort to execute in a handful of minutes. They get the credit for keeping us in the game today. I also have to give a shout out to Hayes Mattern who let us borrow his spare, new power steering line. Can’t thank him enough“, an appreciative Berry said.
Berry’s 40-lap A-main run was thankfully uneventful. Starting at the back of the 26 car field, he finished off his day with a solid effort, coming home 20th. He noted afterward he was encouraged that the car didn’t drop off over the course of the race, which was a longer one than they normally get to run.
“I feel pretty good. We overcame a lot today. Along with the blown line, after the B-main we discovered issues with two (spark) plug wires. Maybe we wouldn’t have even needed the provisional if I would have had all eight (cylinders)”, Berry said with a shrug and a grin.
“I give our day a ‘B’. We learned a lot about what we are capable of. We moved forward every time we hit the track and we passed some of the best in the business. I learn a lot racing with these guys“.
Berry concluded his statements by saying, “Two years ago we would not have even come to this race. Now our program is at a point where we come and believe we can qualify. Leaving here today, I know we belong. We can compete.“
Austin Berry Racing will return to Port Royal Speedway on Saturday, April 16th.
5 races, 0 wins, 1 top 5, 2 top 10’s, 3 top 15’s, 5 top 20’s
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