MOORESVILLE, NC – On Saturday, JR Motorsports Late Model drivers Josh Berry and Connor Mosack will begin a 20-race quest with the goal of winning a CARS Racing Tour championship, a lot of races and perhaps even a second grandfather clock.
The first CARS Tour event of the season is set for 3 p.m. on Saturday at Southern National Motor Speedway in Kenly, N.C., kicking off a 10-race battle for the championship in one of the strongest regional touring series in the nation.
For Berry, it is the first chance he’ll have to claim a second driver’s title in the series since last November when he won the pole, led every lap and won the race at Virginia’s South Boston Speedway, only to fall a single point short of the championship. A last-gasp lunge by title rival Bobby McCarty at the line gave him second place in the race and the title by that single marker.
For Mosack, Saturday’s race and the season schedule give him the opportunity to take his next step up the ladder in stock car racing, with a high-caliber team in JR Motorsports. The 21-year-old Charlotte, N.C. native will embark on his first Late Model Stock Car touring campaign after spending last season running at Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway in the Late Model division.
Berry, the all-time leader in several CARS Tour categories including victories, poles, races led, laps led and money won, is focused on claiming the title he came so close to earning in 2019. “I’m excited to be back and pick up from where we left off last year,” the 29-year-old Tennessee native said. “We had an amazing 2019 season and we are working to try to continue that success. Mark Thomas and All Things Automotive are back with us for a third straight season as the primary sponsor. We’ve been able to win a lot of races together. He knows the sport very well, having been in it for quite a while, and he’s always been supportive of me and of JR Motorsports. We’re looking for bigger things yet this season.”
Berry has a new sponsor for 2020 as well.
“We have a new sponsor in iRacing as well,” he said. “iRacing is going to be on the hood for the season and we’re excited about that. It’s a huge deal for us.”
In 2019, Berry earned six victories—four in the CARS Tour, a 40-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series victory at Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Speedway and, oh by the way, the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, the biggest Late Model Stock Car race in the South. He also posted 14 top-five finishes in his 15 starts. Adam Lemke and Sam Mayer also won races for the Late Model team in 2019, both at Hickory. Mayer took the Bobby Isaac Memorial in Berry’s No. 88 and Lemke won a 40-lap NWAAS main in the team’s No. 98 Chevrolet.
“I just want to keep continuing our success,” Berry, who recently became a father for the first time, said. “(Winning at) Martinsville was a huge accomplishment for us, but there are still some big races out there to win. The Old North State Nationals at Orange County in April is one I’ve circled. I want to stay competitive, compete for the championship in the CARS Tour.
“Last year we came up one point short, which is disappointing, but we had a phenomenal year and it’s hard to be disappointed over it. Maybe we can have a little better season points-wise and get some wins along the way. I hope I can bring my little girl to the track a couple of times this year and share and experience that with her.”
Mosack, who debuted for JRM in the CARS finale at South Boston with a 12th-place finish, will drive the No. 8 for JRM this season, with sponsorship from Nic Tailor Custom Underwear and International Foam Supply. A junior business major at High Point University in North Carolina, Mosack spent 2019 racing Late Models at Hickory after a stellar career in the INEX U.S. Legend Car Series. Last month, Mosack raced at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway during Speedweeks and did well.
“I’m ready to get going, and have been for a while,” Mosack said prior to the weekend. “I think we can run up front in a lot of these races, even though the competition in the CARS Tour is pretty tough. I’m feeling more confident after a week in Florida during Speedweeks. I’m looking forward to it.”
Berry, who has raced alongside many young drivers during his tenure with JRM, said Mosack is a good addition to the squad this season. “I really like Connor,” he said. “He’s a little older, we’re a little closer in age, and that makes it easier to talk. We’re excited for him. He has a season of Late Model racing under his belt and he just came off a great Speedweeks down at New Smyrna. It’s a good fit for him, we really like him and his family…we really want him to do well this year.”
Mosack will be taking a step up in class, and that’s just fine to him.
“The car I’m in this year is better, and has shown that it can run up front,” Mosack said of his No. 8 Chevrolet. “After a full year of experience at Hickory, running the whole season, I think we’ll be a lot better. We had some good looks at wins at the end of the year last season, and especially at the non-CARS Tour races, we should be pretty good.
“I think we can get a couple of wins this year, not necessarily in the CARS Tour, but I think I can run top-five there,” Mosack continued. “I would be happy with that. Certain tracks where I’ve raced before, I think we can be upfront and fighting for wins here and there. The non-CARS Tour races that we run, I expect to be running up front and having a shot at winning some of those races.”
Team manager Bryan Shaffer will call the shots for Mosack this season, as Ryan Vasconcellos will continue to do for Berry. That depth of experience is a plus, Mosack said. “As far as working with the team, everything went well (last year at South Boston) and I was happy with how everyone worked together and made the car better in practice. I think that will carry on to this year. I trust what they say, and if I’m not sure I’ll probably end up going with what they think. They know what they’re talking about more than I do, but if there’s something that I feel strongly about, I’ll definitely voice my opinions.”
Juggling life as a college student and a racing driver can be difficult, but Mosack is making it work. A junior, he has two more semesters to his degree.
“It definitely has weeks that are pretty tough,” he said. “I missed two straight weeks of school going to Florida to race. It depends on the classes I have, but most of the teachers here, I’m able to work with them around the usual schedule since they know I’m not just skipping class to skip class.
“They understand that I have things that I’m doing and pursuing. For the most part, it’s not too bad. I have to keep up with assignments and quiz’s when I’m gone and doing as much as I can before I leave to go racing. It’s tougher to do when I’m on the road. Tuesdays and Thursdays are usually the days I’m in class, so it makes it easier to do rather than having to be back Sunday night or wait until Friday night to leave.”