Berry Runner-up at Port Royal Speedway in Impressive Return
Veteran Eckert Wrestled the Lead Away in Closing Laps
Port Royal, PA – July 5, 2022
by Addicted2Dirt PR & Media Management
Feature Photo Credit: Jeremy Zarfos Photography
Austin Berry and the entire ABR team know what they are capable of. They just haven’t had ample opportunities to demonstrate it this season, thanks to a series of issues, which were further complicated by parts delays.
Saturday night at Port Royal Speedway it looked like Berry may have finally disposed of the monkey that had been firmly entrenched on his team’s back lately. The Mifflin, PA native backed up his top ten at Selinsgrove last week with an impressive run at ‘The Speed Palace’, leading laps 3-20 and finishing runner-up to veteran Rick Eckert, who was the only one capable of spoiling Berry’s party.
July 2: Port Royal Speedway / Port Royal, PA
[17 cars, Heat 1st (2), A-main 2nd (3)]
A little luck at the registration pill draw provided Austin Berry with the outside front row starting spot for the first of two heat races for the evening. Each qualifying race would be eight laps and all cars would qualify, however only the top four finishers would be handicapped for the A-main starting lineup.
Berry got out of the gate quickly in his heat race, grabbing the lead from front row mate Tim Wilson. Berry never looked back, and went on to win by 1.092 seconds, securing a handicapped starting spot for the finale in 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.
Larry Neiderer and Tim Wilson occupied the front row of the 25-lap feature starting lineup, with Berry and Hayes Mattern in row two. Wilson and Berry wasted no time assuming the top two spots by overtaking Neiderer on the start.
Austin Berry then went to work, nipping at Wilson’s heels looking for a way to the front. He pulled alongside Wilson’s No.3 in turn two on lap two but couldn’t complete the pass. When the pair reached turn four, Wilson slipped just a bit out of the racing groove. In the split second it took to gather it back up, Berry had charged by on the low side to take the lead.
From laps three through twenty Berry was in command, at one point holding a lead of 3.1 seconds. He survived multiple restarts, a near miss of a slowing car in turn four, and navigated lapped traffic smoothly.
On a lap three restart, Wilson and Colby Frye lined up behind Berry and on the lap 13 restart it was Wilson and Trever Feathers. Berry maintained his lead through both. With twelve laps remaining, Rick Eckert moved into 3rd behind Feathers, then moved into 2nd one lap later.
Berry fended off Eckert for the next seven laps, but as the pair came to the line to complete lap 21, Eckert nosed ahead and slid up in front of Berry in turn one to claim the top spot. Berry came home with his best finish of the season, a runner up showing in front of his home crowd.
“We were close. Josh (Sheaffer, crew chief) and I went back to a baseline we know works for this car. We gambled on tires and I got too tight during the long green run. I couldn’t hold the center, so I slowed my entry but it got worse. We were fast but I think the clean air made us a little better than we really were. It was definitely tighter in traffic. We got off to a really good start this season but then struggled with part failures and different things, so we’ll take this. Feels good to be back. I really like coming here.”, Berry commented.
“I can’t thank Greg and the guys at The Tire Mart in Harrisburg enough for coming on board this year. If you need any automotive work done, go see those guys and thank them for being involved in racing. Big thanks to Locust Hill Custom Butcher Shop, Jim Stevens & JDS Racing, Swift Springs, Allen at A&C Racing Engines, Josh and of course my family.”
“I’m excited for the rest of the season. We have stuff to work on but I’m comfortable in the car. Despite being sidelined for a while, I think we’re closer to where we need to be than we were back in April when we ran in the top five.“
Berry will return to Port Royal Speedway this Saturday night, July 9th, on Kid’s Night to try to grab his first win of the season.
Before racing begins Saturday night, Berry’s No.86 Rocket XR1 late model will be on display behind the grandstands starting at 4pm. Kids are invited to stop by, pick up a hero card and take a picture with Austin! The team will also have some goodies for the kids!
8 races, 0 wins, 2 top 5’s, 4 top 10’s, 5 top 15’s, 7 top 20’s
AUSTIN BERRY RACING
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The Tire Mart of Harrisburg
Berry’s Siding & Seamless Gutter
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Nathan Berry Beef Farm
A&C Racing Engines
Kevin Nouse Designs
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VP Racing Fuels
DMI – Diversified Machine Inc.
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