LUCAMA, N.C. (March 9, 2020) – Connor Mosack’s debut with JR Motorsports’ Late Model team was a smashing success, and Josh Berry served notice that he is indeed a threat to win the CARS Late Model Stock Car Series title again as the duo finished third and fourth, respectively, in the season opener on Saturday at Southern National Motorsports Park.
Mosack, in his second race with JR Motorsports after running last year’s season finale, qualified fifth for the event, with Berry right behind in sixth. Given the abrasiveness of the SNMP pavement, it was going to be an exercise in saving tires for the first event of the CARS Late Model Stock Car Series season.
Over the first 40 laps, Taylor Gray, polesitter Deac McCaskill, and Craig Moore traded places at the front of the field while the remainder of the field saved tires. Berry and Mosack were among that group, with the younger driver falling back to the middle part of the field. Following a competition caution, the field settled back into side-by-side racing with both JRM cars in the top seven.
At the halfway point, Gray led over Chad McCumbee, Tommy Lemons Jr., Berry, and Moore. Five laps later, the second competition caution waved and the field reset with an uptick in side-by-side racing as the laps began to wind down.
Berry, one of the best in the business at saving his tires, started to rumble in his No. 88 All Things Automotive/iRacing Chevrolet as the counter wound down to 50 to go. He was third at lap 94 and putting pressure on Lemons for the runner-up spot at lap 107. Berry took second place three laps later, only to give it back to Lemons when Gray took the same line.
At lap 121, Berry retook second place with McCaskill and Lemons in trail ahead of Mosack, who joined the fight 10 laps earlier. McCaskill moved Berry for second by using the low line, and Lemons followed him through. A couple of laps later, Berry got back past Lemons and brought his young teammate with him to ride third and fourth.
At lap 126, Lemons was turned after contact with Brandon Pierce with several other cars involved. The red flag came out at that point, setting up a 24-lap run to the checkered. When the green waved again, Gray and McCaskill began to battle for the lead with the JRM duo of Berry and Mosack close behind. With nine to go, Gray had opened a gap to McCaskill in lapped traffic, and Mosack pushed his No. 8 Nic Tailor/IFS Chevrolet past Berry with five circuits still to run. The order remained unchanged to the checkered. Gray, McCaskill, Mosack, and Berry led fifth-place finished Layne Riggs under the flag.
Next up for the JR Motorsports team is this coming Saturday at Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action.
Connor Mosack, driver No. 8 Nic Tailor/IFS Chevrolet team
“We were loose in and really tight in the center in practice, but we got it dialed in and qualified fifth. I missed a shift on the start and fell back a ways, but got going around the top and rolled back up to fifth. The pace was a lot slower than I thought it would be...it reminded me a lot of Myrtle Beach. I didn’t want to be on the outside or side-by-side so I fell back to 10th and took care of my tires. We got all the way back to 15th or so but started working back to the front after about 80 laps. From there, we had a lot of cautions and I was back in the top five with about 30 to go, and I passed two more cars before the end. This was a better finish than I was expecting and I’m very happy to start the season with a third-place finish.”
Josh Berry, driver No. 88 All Things Automotive/iRacing Chevrolet team
“We were pretty fast all weekend, but just needed to get the car driving a little bit better for the long run. The race pace was a lot slower than expected and seemed to make our handling worse. We will work on it and be better at Hickory.”