It may have taken two days to complete the Xfinity Series Cook Out 250 at Martinsville Speedway, but Josh Berry wouldn't care if it took a month. The 30-year old out of Tennessee held off teammate Noah Gragson for his first NASCAR touring series victory.
Berry is a solid late model driver for JR Motorsports, and team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. gave him a chance to drive part-time in his No. 8 Xfinity Series Camaro. The last time that number landed in victory lane was 2015, with Earnhardt behind the wheel.
It was a Lucky 13 for Berry, making his 13th career Xfinity Series start (sixth this year) since 2014. Overall, he had two races in the Camping World Truck Series without much success and a fourth-place result in the ARCA Menards Series. From 2015 until last year, Berry has a fantastic record of 19 wins, 36 top 5s, and 43 top 10s in 51 late model races.
Rounding out the Xfinity Series Cook Out 250 top 10 were Daniel Hemric (P3), Ty Gibbs, Brandon Jones, Austin Cindric, Harrison Burton, Justin Haley, Justin Allgaier, and Michael Annett.
“We were just a little tight," said Gibbs, during his post-race interview. "I messed up there at one point, it was my fault. Then I hit the 9 (Noah Gragson), we were dorking around there for a little bit. After I hit him and got kind of loose, it killed my momentum and kind of made me a little tighter. My fault. But overall, decent day, led laps. I feel like if I hadn’t hit him and knocked the nose in, we probably could have maybe got a third or a second or maybe even a first. Can’t complain. Had a good day and learned a lot today. It was a good time and Martinsville is fun. It tested my patience out.”
The Cook Out 250 was the first Xfinity Series Dash 4 Cash event with Harrison Burton, Noah Gragson, Justin Allgaier, and AJ Allmendinger being the eligible drivers. The highest finisher wins $100,000. It is the first of four Dash 4 Cash events with a total of $400,000 available.
With his runner-up finish, Gragson will cash the check, but more importantly, Berry has vaulted himself into the next round of the Dash 4 Cash.
Xfinity Series Cook Out 250 Prerace Notes
Former karting champion Matt Jaskol made his first Xfinity Series start driving the No. 13 MBM Motorsports Supra. George Gorham Jr. was also in an Xfinity Series car for the first time. He was driving the No. 90 Camaro for Mario Goslin.
How the Xfinityy Series Cookout 250 played out
Xfinity Series Cook Out 250 – Stage 1
LAP 1: Harrison Burton (Pole) and Justin Allgaier lead field to green to start the Xfinity Series Cook Out .
Lap 6: Caution – Jade Buford spin. Burton maintains the lead after the restart. AJ Allmendinger pitted under green at Lap 12, thinking he had a flat, but something broke on his front end.
Lap 27: Competition caution under yellow. Matt Jaskol gets the free pass. Burton and Austin Cindric on the front row on the restart.
La 43: Caution for Stephan Parsons spin. Kyle Weatherman is the Lucky Dog. NASCAR sent Jeb Burton and David Starr to the back of the field for a choose rule violation.
Lap 52: Caution for Michael Annett spin after contact with Myatt Snider after Annett checked up after a wheel hop. Allmendinger gets a free pass.
LAP 60: End Xfinity Series Stage 1 – Noah Gragson takes the green checkers. Allmendinger got back on the lead lap with the free pass but fell back one as the crew continued to work on the front end.
Lap 90: **RED FLAG** for rain. Race postponed to Sunday.
Xfinity Series Cook Out 250 – Stage 2
Lap 92: Engines refired at noon on Sunday as the red flag was lifted for yellow as cars returned to the track. Restart at Lap 97 with Daniel Hebric and Brandon Jones on the front row. Matt Mills ran into the back of another car crushing the front grill. No caution because he made it back to pit row.
Lap 107: Caution for Josh Williams spin. Allmendinger gets the free pass and is back on the lead lap. Hemric and Jeb Burton on the front row at the restart.
LAP 120: End Xfinity Series Stage 2 – Daniel Hemric takes the green checkers, followed by Noah Gragson, Jeb Burton, Michael Annett, Jeremy Clements, Tommy Joe Martins, Stefan Parsons, JJ Yeley, George GorHam Jr., and Josh Berry. Ryan Sieg is the free pass car. Yeley is the first off pit row of the cars that did not pit on the Lap 107 caution, gaining six spots. Martins would lead the field to green next to Berry.
Xfinity Series Cook Out 250 – Final Stage
LAP 141: Caution for Colby Howard after Kyle Weatherman ran into the back of him. Matt Jaskol gets his second free pass. Berry is the lead car on the restart alongside Justin Haley on Lap 146. Rookie Ty Gibbs up to P5. In just his third Xfinity Series start, Gibbs has a win (Daytona Road Course) and a second at Phoenix Raceway.
Lap 152: Caution for a Jeremy Clements spin after Brandon Gdovic bumped him. This was Gdovic’s second Xfinity Series race of 2021, finishing eighth in his only other start. Josh Williams is the free pass car. Berry and Cindric restart on the front row at Lap 160. Riley Herbst cuts a tire on Lap 165 and had to pit under green. He was looking for his third straight top-ten. Martins also had to pit under green. He was running P11 at the time.
Lap 177: Caution after Blaine Perkins pulls down in front of Joe Graf Jr. Both spun out. Josh Williams gets another free pass. All the leaders pit to take on their last set of tiers, with Berry and Cindric coming off pit row the same as they entered. The biggest winner was Jeb Burton, who picked up three spots. Haley lost two. Restart at Lap 184 with Currey and Parsons, who stayed out, leading the field to green. Berry immediately reclaimed the lead and Ty Gibbs up to P2. Gibbs took the lead at Lap 194 and had led a lap in every Xfinity Series race he has entered.
Lap 206: Caution for Alex Labbe spin. It is the 12th caution, one more than the entire Xfinity Series race at Martinsville last October. Ryan Sieg gets the free pass into P27. Top ten: Gibbs, Berry, Gragson, Jones, Harrison Burton, Haley, Henric, Cindric, Jeb Burton, Allgaier. Restart with Gibbs and Berry on top at the restart at Lap 211. Berry takes the lead a half-dozen laps later, with Gragson moving into second. Gibbs to P3.