Press Release | STEWART-HAAS RACING
KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (June 21, 2023) – One of the most coveted seats in the NASCAR Cup Series has been filled.
Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) has named Josh Berry the driver of its No. 4 Ford Mustang in the NASCAR Cup Series beginning with the 2024 season. He will replace the retiring Kevin Harvick, whose 23-year Cup Series career will come to an end following the season finale Nov. 5 at Phoenix Raceway.
“I can’t imagine a better opportunity for me – to get in a car that’s been as successful and iconic as the No. 4,” Berry said. “Kevin is a future NASCAR Hall of Famer, and it’s going to be a challenge trying to come after someone so successful. But I know I’m going to have an amazing group of people around me, led by Rodney Childers, to where we can hit the ground running.”
Harvick and his crew chief, Childers, have combined for 37 points-paying wins since their pairing in 2014, when they came out of the gate in impressive fashion by winning the 2014 Cup Series title.
“We’re incredibly proud to have Josh Berry begin the next chapter of his racing career in our No. 4 Ford Mustang,” said Tony Stewart, co-owner of SHR with Haas Automation founder Gene Haas. “Kevin Harvick has obviously set a very high bar, but Josh brings maturity, experience and, above all, a winning record to Stewart-Haas Racing. He is the right driver, at the right time, for the No. 4 team and our organization.”
Berry currently competes in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, the stepping-stone division to the elite Cup Series. The 32-year-old from Hendersonville, Tennessee, is a five-time Xfinity Series race winner who advanced to the Championship 4 in 2022. Berry’s on-track exploits have made him the go-to solution for Cup Series teams in need of an interim driver. He has already made 10 Cup Series starts, highlighted by a second-place finish April 2 at Richmond (Va.) Raceway while subbing for the injured Chase Elliott.
“Josh Berry has proven himself in the Xfinity Series and this year showed how quickly he can adapt to the cars and the level of competition in the NASCAR Cup Series,” said Greg Zipadelli, chief competition officer, SHR. “He’ll be a rookie in our racecar next year, but he drives like a veteran. He puts in the work to ensure that he’s always ready for the opportunities that come his way, and we’re very happy that his next opportunity is with Stewart-Haas Racing.”
Just as Berry earned his 2024 seat with SHR via strong and consistent performances in the Xfinity and Cup Series, Berry earned his spot in the Xfinity Series by dominating Late Model racing across a variety of grassroots series.
While winning six Legend Cars championships as a teenager, Berry also competed in iRacing, and it was during online racing sessions where Berry caught the attention of Dale Earnhardt Jr. Earnhardt offered a Late Model test to Berry and he seized the moment. Berry joined JR Motorsports’ Late Model program in 2010 and soon delivered wins and championships, most notably the 2017 CARS Late Model Stock Tour championship and then the 2020 NASCAR Weekly Racing Series championship.
Earnhardt’s belief in Berry had been duly rewarded, so Earnhardt double-downed on his faith in Berry by promoting his protégé to one of JR Motorsports’ Xfinity Series entries, albeit on a limited schedule. In just his 13th career Xfinity Series start, Berry won on April 11, 2021 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. The site of one of Berry’s most prominent Late Model victories – the 2019 ValleyStar Credit Union 300 – became the site of his breakthrough NASCAR moment. A second Xfinity Series victory was earned on Sept. 25 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, setting the stage for a three-win campaign in 2022 where Berry competed for the championship in his first full-time season.
“I’m really proud of how I’ve gotten to this point and earned this opportunity,” Berry said. “I don’t like to use the word luck. It’s also been about preparation meeting opportunity.
“The Xfinity Series win at Martinsville changed my career and allowed us to point toward a full-time season for 2022 where we competed for the championship.
“It’s also been very meaningful to get some opportunities in the Cup Series this year. I’m proud of how they went, but I cannot wait to drive a Cup car that’s got my name on it.”
After subbing for race-winning drivers in the Cup Series, most notably Elliott and Alex Bowman, Berry will indeed get his own racecar in 2024, but one that has been driven for a decade by Harvick.
“Late Model racing is where I came from, and I think it’s the best place to learn and prepare to eventually race in the NASCAR Cup Series,” said Harvick, who is an ardent supporter of Late Model racing and its presence as a feeder system to NASCAR’s Truck, Xfinity and Cup Series. “Josh is a really good example, and probably the best and most recent example, of applying all that he’s learned in Late Models to what he’s doing in the Xfinity Series.
“Winning the CARS Late Model Stock Tour championship and the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series championship requires a lot of skill and an equal amount of determination. Josh did both and won a lot of races along the way. That experience allowed him to be fast and successful right off the bat when he got to the Xfinity Series, and when he had his opportunities to race in the Cup Series earlier this year, he again showed speed and an ability to race at the front.
“I’m very happy for Josh and proud to see him get this opportunity. He’s going to be a really good fit with Rodney and the No. 4 team.”
In May, Harvick partnered with Earnhardt, Jeff Burton and Justin Marks to purchase the CARS Late Model Stock Tour, the same series Berry ran from 2015 through 2022, winning 22 races and the 2017 title.
“When I was racing the Late Model car, I just wanted to be the most bad-ass short-track racer that you could be, and that’s how we progressed,” Berry said. “We won a ton of races, a national championship and a CARS Tour championship. We had a list of things that we wanted to accomplish and big races we wanted to win, and we’d go out there every time with the intent of checking things off that list.”
Childers can relate to Berry’s Late Model ambitions. Before becoming a successful crew chief, Childers was a successful Late Model driver.
“I think one of the many things that’s made Kevin and I work so well together is our history in Late Model racing and our respect for it,” Childers said. “Late Model racing is a really great proving ground, and Josh showed that he was the best of the best when it came to pavement Late Model racing. And when he got to the Xfinity Series, he kept on winning. To be the guy who will help Josh get his first Cup win is something I’m really looking forward to.”
A road that began with karting in his home state of Tennessee that segued to iRacing with Dale Earnhardt Jr., which landed Berry a shop job at JR Motorsports as a parts washer while he worked to make a name for himself in Late Models and then the Xfinity Series, has finally culminated with a full-time drive in the Cup Series.
“I wouldn’t change anything about how I got here. It made me who I am,” Berry said. “Throughout my teenage years, it was a fight just to keep racing, to get to the next race.
“The timing of Dale and I getting together, that was crucial. If that doesn’t happen, I don’t know that I would’ve ever raced a stock car, or how much more I would’ve raced at all, just because racing overextended us financially. And when you race that way, it’s hard to set any kind of a long-term goal. But your goals just change as you grow.
“Those years of racing and winning, and the people I was around and worked with, prepared me for the opportunities that I’ve gotten, and they’ve prepared me to capitalize on this opportunity with Stewart-Haas Racing. Even without knowing where it would ultimately take me, I’d do it all over again.”