NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. – Josh Berry needed to win the NASCAR All-Star Open to advance to the All-Star Race and that is exactly what he did on Sunday.
The short-track racing ace led 46 laps to score the victory in the Open. Berry ran second up until the competition caution on lap 42. The No. 48 Ally Racing pit crew got Berry the lead off of pit road on lap 44 but Ty Gibbs took to the outside on lap 68 to take it away. Contact between Gibbs and Michael McDowell allowed Berry to get back to the point position on lap 78. From there, he was in control of the race and scored the win. The 32-year-old driver will start 22nd for the 200-lap main event (8 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio-Channel 90).
"These guys deserve to be in this race so bad," Berry told FOX Sports’ Jaime Little after the race. "Thank you Hendrick Motorsports for believing in me and giving me this opportunity under these circumstances."
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Berry is in his fourth week filling in for the sidelined Alex Bowman, who is out with fractured vertebra. With Berry making the field, this marks the 21st time that Hendrick Motorsports has had all four of its cars in the field.
"This is really cool," Berry said of making it into the All-Star Race. "Our car was solid and definitely better on the second run. … We were able to get the lead and stretch it out a little bit and just maintain it. We’ll just see what tonight gives us."
Berry is the 23rd driver to win a Cup Series event (counting points and non-points events) for Hendrick Motorsports. He is also the 27th driver across all three national series to record a victory for the organization.
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Hendrick Motorsports has now had a driver transfer from the All-Star Open into the main event on eight occasions. Berry joins Jeff Gordon (1994), Ricky Craven (1997), Brian Vickers (2005), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2012), Bowman (2018) and William Byron (2019 and 2020) to have done this. Gordon, Craven, Vickers, Earnhardt Jr. and now Berry each won the All-Star Open to advance. Bowman and Byron won a stage of the Open to move into the All-Star Race.