Seeking his first victory in the Thanksgiving Classic at Southern National Motorsports Park, Josh Berry will lead a field of 27 cars to the green flag in the final Late Model Stock marquee event of the year.
A career that has produced victories in the Martinsville 300, Hampton Heat, Myrtle Beach 400 plus championships in the CARS Tour and NASCAR Weekly Series National rankings has led to a full-time opportunity in the Xfinity Series next season.
But first, Berry hopes to add the Thanksgiving Classic to his resume, having made only one prior start in the event back in 2016.
Berry paced time trials with a 15.222 second lap around the .4-mile high-banked short track -- .120 faster than Brenden Queen and .029 faster than four-time track champion and 2006 event winner Deac McCaskill.
The 150-lap main event will start straight up, with no inverts throughout the race, albeit with some unorthodox purse structures to be paid out to the leaders at Lap 50 and 100. The race will pay $1,500 to the leader at each stage break and $4,000 to the winner with another $1,000 if someone can win two of the three segments or $2,000 extra for sweeping all three.
Berry earned $1,000 for winning the pole.
"I'm here to race for the trophy so I'm just going to do what I can to position myself for the last 50 laps," Berry said. "Obviously, the pole paid a good bonus, but I'm going to do whatever it takes to make sure we have enough tire left. I'm here to win."
And Berry believes he has what he needs to get the job done, too.
"I thought we had a good car in practice this morning," Berry said. "We didn’t worry too much about qualifying or anything. We weren’t sure what we had for that. It’s a great start to our weekend. I’ve raced here a lot, so we have a good idea of what we need to do, and it helps to start on the pole."
Berry claimed the 2020 track championship at Kenly en route to the NASCAR Weekly National championship. His lone start in the Thanksgiving Classic produced a 24th place finish.
Starting to his outside is Brenden Queen, who was thrilled to have early track position on Sunday and is also focused on Lap 150 above all else.
"This is a new car, a Hedgecock chassis and we actually didn’t a lot of practice with it," Queen said. "It’s a good car because any time you can share the front row with Josh in a JR Motorsports car is a good result. They’re tough and we’re right there with Deac too. This is his playground.
"A lot of good cars and times are tight. Grateful that it worked out."
The Thanksgiving Classic is a six-tire race using Hoosier F-45s. Racing starts at Noon ET on Sunday with the Late Model Stock feature following a Limited Late Model race and a drifting exhibition. The entire event will air on Racing America powered by Speed51.tv
20TH THANKSGIVING CLASSIC
- Josh Berry
- Brenden Queen
- Deac McCaskill
- Aaron Donnelly
- Justin Johnson
- Logan Clark
- Stacy Puryear
- Connor Jones
- Andrew Grady
- Doug Barnes
- Ryan Matthews
- Connor Hall
- Will Burns
- Trent Barnes
- Carter Langley
- Cole Bruce
- Blaine Perkins
- Chase Burrows
- Chris Chapman
- Jonathan Findley
- Daniel Vulcannon
- Clay Jones
- John Goin
- Justin Carroll
- Jason Barnes