Photo: Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

How Josh Berry Fared in the Hendrick No. 9

By Matt Weaver, Special Contributor

Josh Berry enjoyed his unexpected start in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 9, and learned a lot, until a mechanical issue plagued the second half of their race and trapped them two laps off the pace.

Berry brushed the wall on multiple occasions in the race, partly because it was his first time driving a Gen 7 Cup Series car, and then because he suffered a stuck throttle that manifest itself intermittently throughout the South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

In short, it was a fun experience for Berry, who was just grateful to have had the experience and learn this radically different stock car.

“Honestly, it was a lot of fun,” Berry told FOX Sports after the race. “I thought the first half went pretty well. We were pretty close, right on the edge of staying on the lead lap or not; needed some more cautions to give ourselves a shot.

“Second half of the race, we had an issue on the throttle or throttle body or something. It went from wide open to letting off and I was just trying to nurse it home.”

Berry said he had fun, learned a lot, especially with how to deal with the tremendous dirty air that comes off the draggy Gen 7 car.

Berry was the first choice to replace Elliott after Hendrick Motorsports learned the 2020 champion suffered a broken leg due to their similar driving style and seat fit.

Hendrick Motorsports team president Jeff Andrews said after the race on Sunday that no decision has been made about next weekend at Phoenix or beyond.

“Obviously we’ve got to get together tomorrow morning and make some decisions pretty quick,” Andrews said. “We’ve obviously got to get a seat in the car, and then our haulers are planning on leaving late Tuesday afternoon, first part of the evening. We’ll be making that I would say early part of the day tomorrow.”

Does Berry think he’s done enough to continue?

“I don’t know,” Berry said. “That’s up to Hendrick Motorsports. I thought, at times, we showed speed. I needed a couple of breaks to help us race better. I’ll talk to these guys and figure out what issue we had at the end. But it’s up to them. I’ll be available if these guys need me.” There is no timetable for Elliott’s return following a successful surgery overnight on Friday.

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