NASCAR Xfinity Series

Josh Berry scores maiden Xfinity victory in Cook Out 250 as anger spikes among others

4 Mins read
Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

The NASCAR Xfinity SeriesCook Out 250 and WrestleMania 37 have various similarities: they suffered weather delays, they took place over two days, and they featured a lot of brawling.

The Martinsville Speedway race was postponed from Friday night to Sunday after 91 laps due to rain. By the end, short track Josh Berry was celebrating his first career Xfinity win while the short track atmosphere resulted in fisticuffs and flaring among others.

When the race finally resumed after a day and a half on lap 97, it was in the middle of Stage #2 with Brandon Jones leading. At the restart, Ryan Vargas was collected in a stack-up that did not result in a caution and ended his day; his JD Motorsports team-mates would suffer misfortunes of their own throughout the final stage that resulted in all four drivers finishing in the bottom five. Between the green and the next yellow ten laps later for Josh Williams‘ spin, Jones’ Joe Gibbs Racing team-mate Daniel Hemric took the lead.

Jones elected to pit during the Williams-created caution while Hemric stayed out and led the field to the restart on lap 112. Hemric would lead the rest of the segment to take the stage win ahead of Noah Gragson, Jeb Burton, Michael Annett, Jeremy Clements, Tommy Joe Martins, Stefan Parsons, J.J. Yeley, George Gorham Jr., and Berry. Gorham was making his NASCAR début for DGM Racing.

Berry took the lead to begin the final stage. On lap 141, Colby Howard was turned by Kyle Weatherman to bring out the caution. Howard, the second JDM driver to be eliminated from the race, expressed his frustration over the radio and on social media.

“He doored me every lap we were side by side, he cleared me, and we both ended up back on the outside, I gave him a pop. Got around him and he drove me to the wall in 3-4. I popped him harder in 1-2 and he dumps us in 3. I thought he woulda learned don’t give what you can’t take,” Howard said in one tweet. Another added, “There’s a difference between short track racing and intentionally wrecking someone and laughing about it.”

Another caution occurred on lap 154 for Brandon Gdovic‘s spin, followed by a wreck on lap 177 involving Joe Graf Jr. and Blaine Perkins after Graf was clipped by Gray Gaulding.

After Bayley Currey led laps under caution and during the ensuing restart, Berry reassumed the lead on lap 187. Ty Gibbs took the spot on lap 194, leading until the final yellow on lap 206 for Alex Labbé‘s spin. During this stretch, the final two JDM drivers Landon Cassill and Jeffrey Earnhardt retired with mechanical issues.

Gibbs held the top position for the final green flag until lap 222, when Berry moved Gibbs aside to take it. Berry’s JR Motorsports ally Gragson overtook Gibbs for second and attempted to chase him down, but lapped traffic hindered his momentum. With Gragson too far back, Berry drove off to his first career Xfinity victory in his thirteenth start.

Credit: James Gilbert/Getty Images

Berry, the reigning NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series national champion and winner of the 2019 ValleyStar Credit Union 300 late model race at Martinsville, is the third driver to score his maiden Xfinity win in 2021 after Gibbs and Myatt Snider. Gragson finished second to claim the $100,000 first leg of the Dash 4 Cash.

“I knew this would be a good opportunity to win,” Berry told FS1. Taylor (Moyer, crew chief) called a perfect race. and the car was good. We just kept tweaking on it. The tyres were pretty wore out there at the end. I was struggling a little bit with wheelhop, kept going back and forth on the brake lever, trying to help it on one end. […]

“This is for all those (late model) guys. There’s a ton of them out there that are like me and have won here and all these great short tracks around here. We can do it, we just need the opportunities. Today, we proved it. Yeah, it’s a short track, but it’s still damn hard to win here and we did it.”

“Been a long time since I cried so hard,” JRM owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. tweeted. “It’s great to see my friend @joshberry live his dream.”

As Berry enjoyed his win, Graf and Gaulding confronted each other in the garage, resulting in both drivers on the ground before being pulled up and separated by crewmen.

Gaulding finished twenty-first while Graf was the lone non-JDM retiree in thirty-eighth due to terminal damage from the wreck. The two share a history together at SS-Green Light Racing with Graf replacing Gaulding in one of the full-time seats in 2020 before being team-mates together for sporadic races that year.

“You have to fight for respect out there,” Graf told SiriusXM. “If you don’t talk to someone, that doesn’t happen. […] There was no understanding. He tried to blame me.”

Gaulding retaliated by saying he’d do it “all over again. He’s a moving chicane. […] When I got there, he was holding up the line, and I had to go. It was getting late.

“I respect (SSGLR owner) Bobby Dotter and those guys. I hate it for those guys, though. After a while, when a guy chops you countless times, you just have to move him out of the way.”

“Jeez, listening to Gray talk @SiriusXMNASCAR he talks like he is Dale Earnhardt,” Graf retorted on Twitter. “Gray is 38th in points and has no top 20 finishes no lead lap finishes. And I am in his way…lol”.

Gorham ended his first NASCAR race in eighteenth, while Matt Jaskol finished twenty-eighth in his.

Race results

FinishStartNumberDriverTeamManufacturerLapsStatus
1298Josh BerryJR MotorsportsChevrolet250Running
289Noah GragsonJR MotorsportsChevrolet250Running
3418Daniel HemricJoe Gibbs RacingToyota250Running
41654Ty Gibbs #Joe Gibbs RacingToyota250Running
52419Brandon JonesJoe Gibbs RacingToyota250Running
6622Austin CindricTeam PenskeFord250Running
7120Harrison BurtonJoe Gibbs RacingToyota250Running
8511Justin HaleyKaulig RacingChevrolet250Running
927Justin AllgaierJR MotorsportsChevrolet250Running
10101Michael AnnettJR MotorsportsChevrolet250Running
111310Jeb BurtonKaulig RacingChevrolet250Running
122702Brett Moffitt*Our MotorsportsChevrolet250Running
13316A.J. AllmendingerKaulig RacingChevrolet250Running
141151Jeremy ClementsJeremy Clements RacingChevrolet250Running
1592Myatt SniderRichard Childress RacingChevrolet250Running
161592Josh WilliamsDGM RacingChevrolet250Running
172526Brandon GdovicSam Hunt RacingToyota250Running
183790George Gorham Jr.DGM RacingChevrolet250Running
193048Jade BufordBig Machine RacingChevrolet250Running
203899Stefan ParsonsB.J. McLeod MotorsportsToyota249Running
213952Gray GauldingJimmy Means RacingChevrolet249Running
223461David StarrMBM MotorsportsToyota249Running
231239Ryan SiegRSS RacingFord249Running
243317J.J. YeleySS-Green Light RacingChevrolet249Running
253147Kyle WeathermanMike Harmon RacingChevrolet249Running
262674Bayley CurreyMike Harmon RacingChevrolet249Running
271968Brandon BrownBrandonbilt MotorsportsChevrolet248Running
284013Matt JaskolMBM MotorsportsToyota248Running
29798Riley HerbstStewart-Haas RacingFord248Running
302066Timmy HillMBM MotorsportsToyota248Running
312236Alex LabbéDGM RacingChevrolet248Running
322178Jesse LittleB.J. McLeod MotorsportsChevrolet245Running
33365Matt MillsB.J. McLeod MotorsportsChevrolet241Running
341744Tommy Joe MartinsMartins MotorsportsChevrolet231Running
353223Blaine PerkinsOur MotorsportsChevrolet226Running
36180Jeffrey EarnhardtJD MotorsportsChevrolet213Suspension
37144Landon CassillJD MotorsportsChevrolet197Engine
382807Joe Graf Jr.SS-Green Light RacingChevrolet179Accident
392315Colby HowardJD MotorsportsChevrolet153Suspension
40356Ryan VargasJD MotorsportsChevrolet97Accident
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for Xfinity points
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