SUNNYD® Racing: Josh Berry Daytona Speedweek Advance

JOSH BERRY
Daytona Speedweek
Pole Qualifying | Duel | Daytona 500
No. 4 SUNNYD® Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing

Event Overview

Wednesday, Feb. 14:
● Daytona 500 qualifying (single-lap qualifying to determine pole for the Daytona 500)

●  Time/TV/Radio: 8 p.m. ET on FS1/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Thursday, Feb. 15:
● Bluegreen Vacations Duel (twin 150-mile qualifying races that set the field for the Daytona 500)

●  Time/TV/Radio: 7 p.m. ET on FS1/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio  

Sunday, Feb. 18:
● 66th annual Daytona 500 (first of 36 points-paying NASCAR Cup Series races in 2024)

●  Time/TV/Radio: 2:30 p.m. ET on FOX/MRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Notes of Interest

● The Daytona 500 is where NASCAR careers are born and, for Josh Berry, Sunday’s 66th running of the Great American Race will mark his first official points-paying Cup Series outing at the 2.5-mile superspeedway. The 33-year-old driver will strap into the No. 4 SUNNYD Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) for the first time in the Cup Series at “The World Center of Racing” Wednesday to lay down a qualifying lap in a session that will determine the pole position and outside-front-row starting for the Daytona 500. Thursday, the Cup Series field will compete in the Bluegreen Vacations Duel twin 150-mile qualifying races to determine the remaining starting positions for Sunday’s 500-mile event.

● Daytona (Fla.) Interational Speedway holds a special place in Berry’s heart. It’s where Berry got interested in the sport of racing. He says the 1997 Daytona 500 is his earliest memory of watching a NASCAR race. That’s when, as a 6-year-old, he saw Jeff Gordon take the checkered flag, and that’s when he knew he wanted to be a part of Cup Series racing. Fast forward 27 years, and Berry will fulfil his childhood dream when he tightens his belts in the No. 4 SUNNYD Ford Mustang in the sport’s most prestiegous event.

● While the Daytona 500 marks Berry’s first official points-paying Cup Series start as a fulltime driver for 2024, his most recent Cup Series appearance and 10th of 2023 came in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona last August. He qualified 29th and finished 22nd in the No. 42 Legacy Motorsports Club entry. The Cup Series rookie will looking to build on that experience this week during the Duel and the two practice sessions that follow on Friday and Saturday prior to taking the green flag on Sunday. Berry has turned laps on superspeedways in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with JR Motorsports and has a career-best fifth-place finish at Talladega (Ala.) Superspedway in October 2022. He started that race seventh.

● Crew chief Rodney Childers will call the shots for Berry in Sunday’s Daytona 500, marking his 37th start at the track. In his previous 36 Daytona starts atop the pit box, he has one pole award (2020), eight top-five results and 12 top-10s. Most recently, Childers and now-retired SHR veteran Kevin Harvick took the checkered flag ninth after starting 10th there in the August 2023 race.

● Another notable addition to the No. 4 Ford team this season is spotter Eddie D’Hondt. Berry’s eyes in the sky spent the last 12 years and 468 races at Hendrick Motorsports, most recently spotting for driver Chase Elliott. The addition of D’Hondt will provide Berry with a familiar voice as the two worked together on Hendrick’s No. 9 team in 2023 when Elliot missed five races with an injury. During that stint, Berry captured a runner-up finish at Richmond (Va.) Raceway, proving the driver-spotter combination’s potential for success in 2024.

● SUNNYD has partnered with Berry and the No. 4 team ahead of the 2024 season, donning the vibrant orange and blue SUNNYD colors during this weekend’s season-opening Daytona 500. SUNNYD will continue to support the No. 4 team throughout the 38-week season as an associate partner featured on Berry’s firesuit, and the team’s hauler and toolboxes.

Josh Berry, Driver of the No. 4 SUNNYD Ford Mustang

You are about to strap into the No. 4 SUNNYD Ford Mustang for your first Daytona 500. What’s going through your mind as you approach the crown jewel race to kick off the 2024 season?

“I think it’s obviously really exciting to get the chance to prepare to compete in the Daytona 500. In my eyes, it’s the biggest race we run, so to get to be a part of it is really cool. I think I will have so many emotions there and I am not really sure exactly what to expect, but I know it will be fun and I’m really looking forward to getting in the car this weekend.”

Eddie D’Hondt joined the No. 4 team this offseason. What is it like to work with a veteran spotter like D’Hondt, and how important is it that your communication is clear at a track like Daytona International Speedway?

“Eddie D’Hondt has been a big addition to the No. 4 team this year, and to have his knowledge and experience up on the spotter stand is going to be really helpful for me. The relationship of the driver and spotter at the speedway races is so important, so to have a chance to work together at the Duels, and talk between then and Sunday, will have us in a good spot come the green flag.”

What do you think is the biggest learning curve you will face in Sunday’s race?

“The biggest thing for me to learn is just how the NextGen cars are at speedways. I have a little bit of experience in the new car, but to continue to build on my notebook of experience is going to be the biggest hurdle for me. Obviously, working with the No. 4 team and Eddie will be important and we can do that Thursday and Friday. I think the other thing is just learning how to survive the speedway race and be there at the end when it counts.”

You have cited the 1997 Daytona 500 as one of the earliest NASCAR races you can remember. What makes that one stand out for you?

“When you have a chance to reflect on your early days as a kid watching the sport and growing up at a racetrack, there are times that you can pick out and remember and, for me, the 1997 Daytona 500 is just one of those races. I felt like that was one I remember all the parts and events of – I am sure I watched others before it – but in my memory, that is the one that stands out, and to be able to compete at the 500 makes this weekend more significant for me.”

You’ve raced as teammates with Noah Gragson in the Xfinity Series, but you have two new teammates in Chase Briscoe and Ryan Preece. What challenges and advantages does this provide?

“It will take some time for us to work around each other on-track and build that chemistry and trust but, with the NextGen, it’s really important to work together with your teammates early in the race and when you make your pit cycles. We have spent a lot of time around each other during the offseason and I feel like we have all built a good relationship with each other and we can carry that over into the Daytona 500.”

What does your strategy look like for Daytona 500 week? Is it something that evolves for you and Rodney (Childers, crew chief) as the week unfolds?

“I think that depends on where you qualify and how your Duel race goes. I think that it can be a bit of a moving target, it depends on how your week is going. We want to qualify well and race up front and get that experience on Thursday, and I think that will help me for Sunday. I think on Sunday we just have to make it to the end. You need to spend some time racing up front and see how your car is handling, but it is a bit of risk versus reward and we just have to be smart to be there at the end.”

No. 4 SUNNYD Team Roster

Primary Team Members

Driver: Josh Berry

Hometown: Hendersonville, Tennessee

Crew Chief: Rodney Childers

Hometown: Mooresville, North Carolina

Car Chief: Robert “Cheddar” Smith

Hometown: Whitewater, Wisconsin

Engineer: Dax Gerringer

Hometown: Gibsonville, North Carolina

Engineer: Josh Wright

Hometown: Commerce, Missouri

Spotter: Eddie D’Hondt

Hometown: Levittown, New York

Over-The-Wall Members

Front Tire Changer: Daniel Coffey

Hometown: Granite Falls, North Carolina

Rear Tire Changer: Daniel Smith

Hometown: Concord, North Carolina

Tire Carrier: Jeremy Howard

Hometown: Delhart, Texas

Jack Man: Brandon Banks

Hometown: High Point, North Carolina

Fuel Man: Evan Marchal

Hometown: Westfield, Indiana

Road Crew Members

Mechanic: Tyler Trosper

Hometown: Mooresville, North Carolina

Mechanic: Chris Capaldi

Hometown: Armada, Michigan

Tire Specialist: Zac Lupien

Hometown: Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Engine Tuner: Robert Brandt

Hometown: Mobile, Alabama

Transporter Co-Driver: Jake Zierhoffer

Hometown: Billerica, Massachusetts

Transporter Co-Driver: Stephen Mitchell

Hometown: Woodville, Ohio

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

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