The Little Team That Could…DID!
Mifflin, PA – June 15, 2021
by Addicted2Dirt PR & Media Management
Feature Photo Credit: Leister Photography
For years, Austin Berry was accustomed to winning. He won in go karts. He won in legends cars. He didn’t just win now and then. He won a lot. Almost six years ago he stepped up to super late models and the wins stopped coming. Knowing how competitive the division is, it certainly wasn’t a surprise, but after a few years, the moments of doubt began to creep in. At times he doubted himself. At times he doubted his equipment. Would he ever win again?
Through it all, Berry has been working hard and learning everything he can, trying to get back to victory lane in a very tough division. He’s been doing it in and around the Central Pennsylvania region by competing at some of the toughest tracks, against some of the toughest weekly competition in the country. Saturday night June 12th, 2021, all of that hard work finally paid off. Berry won a nail-biting, thrilling 25-lap A-main, defeating top regional names like Feathers, Flinner, Stuhler, Lathroum and Rine.
A field of 32 cars entered competition Saturday night at Port Royal Speedway and were divided into four, 8-lap heat races, with lineups set by a random draw. The top five finishers would transfer directly to the A-main, but more importantly, the top three finishers would be included in the handicapping system to line up the top 12 starting positions in the night’s feature event.
Berry started 3rd in his heat race, but slipped back to 4th and out of a handicap spot in the early going. He was able to find his rhythm, improve his line, and chase down Mike Lupfer to reclaim 3rd on lap 6. He held that position to the end and claimed one of the handicap transfer spots.
Troubles earlier in the season had Berry sitting lower in the track points than hoped, but it benefitted them on this night. As a result of the handicapping system, 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 took the green in the 25-lap feature from the second position.
Austin was able to surge to the lead at the drop of the green and build a comfortable lead in the opening laps. Meanwhile, Trevor Feathers, Colton Flinner and Gary Stuhler, who had started 8th, 9th and 10th respectively, were beginning their charge toward the front. Feathers was able to move into 2nd on a lap 7 restart. He momentarily showed himself on the inside of Berry, but couldn’t complete the pass. Meanwhile, Flinner moved past Stuhler into 3rd. The three pursued Berry feverishly over the remaining laps, swapping positions among themselves on a couple occasions but remaining within striking distance of Berry throughout the battles.
The final caution occurred with eight laps remaining. After that the battles only got more intense, and far too close for Berry’s comfort. Choosing his lines carefully in an effort to balance his own ability to drive hard, while playing some defense by taking away the momentum of those in pursuit, Berry used every inch of the Speed Palace, and then some. He made contact with the outside wall with his spoiler on at least one occasion., bending it slightly and knocking out a support brace.
Over the final three laps, Berry, Feathers and Flinner ran a torrid pace “under a blanket” as they say. The white flag waived and the front pair entered turn one side by side, with Flinner hot on their tail. Berry was able to get sole possession of the lead by the time they reached turn three and he dove to the bottom to take away Feather’s chance at a slide job. Meanwhile, Flinner turned up the wick on his machine, hammering the top side hard to get a run off turn four to the checkered flag. Stuhler continued to lurk close behind the trio, looking for a gap to shoot through. With some quick thinking, Berry allowed his chariot to slide up across turn four, forcing Flinner to check up just enough for the ABR No.86 to speed away with lead for good. Berry won by a slim 0.169 seconds and the top 4 flashed across the line in a span of just 0.639 seconds. Feathers, Flinner and Stuhler had collectively passed 18 cars to finish 2nd, 3rd and 4th respectively, but none of them was able to get by Austin Berry.
A understandably excited, emotional and exhausted Berry climbed from his Rocket Chassis XR1, climbed on the roof, and let loose a celebration that had been building within him for six years. “That was unbelievable. That was the hardest 25 laps I have ever driven around this place. I am absolutely worn out,” Berry said.
“You’ve got the Dream going on at Eldora and you show up at Port Royal for a regular $3000 to win show and there is 33 of the best cars in the country in the pits“, Berry explained. “We live 10 minutes from this place and we probably would have won one of these things sooner if we went somewhere else. My dad and I always said if we were going to do this and win, we wanted to race against the best and that’s why we keep coming here“.
Berry wanted to say thank you to a lot of people who got him through the past six years and onto the victory lane stage Saturday night. “I’ve mentioned his name a lot lately but I can’t say enough about how much we appreciate Jim Stevens & JDS Racing. Jim has accelerated our learning curve and put us in a position to make better decisions“.
“I also need to thank a couple good friends who stepped forward to help us this year because they believed in what we were building here at ABR. I want to send a huge thank you to Devin Hart for sharing knowledge, helping us out with some long hours at the shop, lending us parts when we were in a bind, and leading us to our relationship with JDS Racing”, Berry shared.
“I want to mention Devin’s crew too because pretty much the whole KHK Motorsports team showed up one night when we had to put an entire car together after we crashed our old one at Selinsgrove. There were so many people in the shop, we were tripping over each other trying to get that car done by the weekend”, Berry laughed as he recalled the long night.
“The other friend who helped us in a big way this season is Tyler Ritchey. When our primary motor had an issue early in the season, we were going to be out of commission for a long stretch due to parts delays, but Tyler called us and insisted we borrow his motor so we could keep racing and not sit on the sidelines. He wasn’t racing it this year, so it was the way he wanted to help us“, Berry explained.
Berry concluded his expressions of thanks saying, “Of course I also want to thank Locust Hill Custom Butcher Shop who came on board this year, and all the others who help out silently without asking for anything in return. We couldn’t do this without each and every one of them. We can always use the help and support. We would love to grow our resources to be able to run more. You can’t get better if you’re not racing“.
ABR certainly has been slowly building momentum this season. Saturday night may have been the win that broke the ice. Austin Berry might get used to winning again.
UP NEXT: Austin Berry Racing will take a couple weeks off, then return to Port Royal Speedway, July 3rd as part of the PA Sprint Speedweek Greg Hodnett Classic event.
Photos from Port Royal Speedway 6-12-2021
AUSTIN BERRY RACING
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