ABR Shows They’re Ready to Compete at the Front
Port Royal, PA – March 8, 2022
by Addicted2Dirt PR & Media Management
Feature Photo Credit: Mike Leone
It was the first Sunday in March and temperatures were climbing into the 70’s in Central PA. By mid-afternoon Austin Berry had already put on a show from the back of his heat race and climbed out of the car with a big smile on his face.
Looks like 2022 might be a fun one in the ABR pits.
March 6th: 2022 Season Opener / Port Royal Speedway / Port Royal, PA
(18 cars, Heat 2nd, A-main 10th)
Despite the beautiful weather and being couped up in their race shops all winter, only 18 super late model teams signed in for opening day at Port Royal Speedway. It was a quality field but a bit short of the count fans have become accustomed to at the ‘Speed Palace’. Unfortunately the supply chain issues that are affecting everyday items are affecting the availability of race parts too. Some teams are still waiting for engine and suspension parts to get their cars race-ready.
Austin Berry Racing (ABR) was coming off a 2021 season where they had found their groove. They had established a consistent baseline and collected a victory, then went to work in the shop and felt confident they could maintain that level of performance, if not improve on it in 2022.
Two 8-lap heats were lined up by random draw. While all cars would qualify for the A-main, only the top 4 would get to redraw for one of the top eight starting spots. As luck would have it, Austin Berry’s day started by drawing a high pill, which placed him at the back of the lineup, outside row 4, for the second heat race.
It didn’t take Berry long to show ABR had come prepared. When the green flag waved on heat number two, Berry got a great run off the high side of turn four and the outside lane opened up down the straightaway, allowing Berry to rip the top all the way into 3rd place by the time he reached the exit of turn two. He proceeded to dive under the No.94 of Jason Miller in turn three and claim 2nd.
Berry then set his sights on leader Kyle Hardy and was able to close to within a car length for a couple moments in the closing laps. Austin flashed under the checkered flag in 2nd, one second behind Hardy.
The reward for his qualifying effort was a spot in the redraw, which garnered Berry the 3rd starting spot in the feature event. It was evident 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 / Addicted2DirtPR.com / Penske Racing Shocks / Hoosier Tire Mid-Atlantic / VP Racing Fuels / Rocket Chassis XR1 No.86 was capable of running up front.
It would just be up to the team to make the right adjustments to keep up with the ever-changing surface, then the driver would just need to make the right decisions behind the wheel. Simple, right?
As the field came to the green for the 25-lap main event, there was some incidental contact among the front few rows as they sorted out exactly when to mash the gas. Fortunately, everyone collected themselves and got rolling down the straightaway. Things didn’t turn out quite as well at that end of the track for Berry. His car over-rotated on entry. He nearly had it saved but contact with another car left Berry facing oncoming traffic. On the bright side, everyone else avoided him. He was able to rejoin the field and restart at the rear.
The Mifflin, PA resident composed himself and went back to work. Racing in traffic is always a bit more challenging, but Berry was able to work his way back to a 10th place finish. Not what he was aiming for, but a decent recovery.
“I’m obviously disappointed. We had a great car and didn’t get the finish we should have. The spin was our own fault. We made a mistake calculating an adjustment, so the car didn’t handle like I expected it to when I entered turn one. Nothing we can do but learn from it. We’ll come back next week, show how good we are, and get a finish that helps us forget this one. As frustrating as today was, I’m actually really excited about this season because we have a really good car. We are capable of running up front every week. We just need to keep putting in the effort”, Berry commented, clearly experiencing a range of emotions.
Austin and the team will return to Port Royal Speedway on Saturday, March 12th. Racing starts at 4pm.
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