Nearly eight years after Dale Earnhardt Jr. all but pleaded for a company to align with Josh Berry to run a full Xfinity season, Berry will get the chance to be a full-time Cup driver.

Stewart-Haas Racing announced Wednesday that Berry will take over the ride for Kevin Harvick when the future Hall of Famer retires after this season.

“Every time he’s got an opportunity, he’s made the most of it and that’s the traits that championship drivers are built off of,” SHR co-owner Tony Stewart said of Berry at Wednesday’s announcement at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Earnhardt is thrilled with the opportunity Berry will have.

“What a team will get when they sign Josh Berry to a Cup deal is a driver with great race craft and a turn-key winner,” Earnhardt said. “Whereas it’s incredible and a great opportunity to sign a young driver that will develop into a champion, I believe you get to skip those years of development with a guy like Josh, and you get right into working on the championship part and winning races because he’s there mentally, professionally, and in talent.”

This completes quite a journey for Berry, who seemed headed only for a successful Late Model stock car career at one point.

“It was an amazing journey to get here,” Berry said Wednesday.

Berry was 24 years old when he finished seventh at Richmond in Sept. 2015, scoring his first Xfinity top 10. It came in his third career Xfinity start and only one of that season. After the race, Earnhardt said: “I’m ready to race Josh every week. We’ve just got to find a partner.’’

None was found for years.

Berry’s big chance in the Xfinity Series came in 2021 when he was scheduled to run 12 races for JR Motorsports before Sam Mayer turned 18 and could run the series.

Berry won at Martinsville in his sixth start that season. Earnhardt admits he “cried like a baby” for joy because of the long road Berry had traveled to that point.

“I felt like I had watched my own son or brother win a race,” Earnhardt said.

Berry’s success in those limited races led to a full-time Xfinity Series ride with JRM last season. Berry won three races and finished fourth in the points.

He returned for this season. Berry, 32, also drove five races for Chase Elliott in Cup when Elliott was injured in a snowboarding accident. Berry finished a season-high second at Richmond. He drove three races for Alex Bowman after Bowman was injured in a sprint car crash.

Stewart said that the team had made its decision before Berry served as a sub for either Hendrick driver.

Harvick will become an analyst for Fox Sports next year for the company’s NASCAR broadcasts. With 20 races left in his Cup career, Harvick has won 60 races and scored 437 top 10s in 806 starts. He also won the 2014 Cup title.

Berry will join a Stewart-Haas Racing team that has Chase Briscoe, Ryan Preece and possibly Aric Almirola. Although Almirola signed a multi-year contact extension last year, he recently admitted that his plans for next season are “fluid.” Stewart said sponsorship on the No. 4 car for next season is open as the team talks with existing sponsors and other potential sponsors.

Kevin Harvick Inc. also announced that Berry has joined the group as a client. Other drivers who are clients of KHI are Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ryan Preece, Harrison Burton, Todd Gilliland, Riley Herbst, William Sawalich, Brent Crews and Keelan Harvick.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here