Josh Berry has five Xfinity Series wins and finished second at Richmond earlier this season in the Cup Series while subbing for Chase Elliott. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Stewart-Haas Racing has found its replacement for Kevin Harvick.
The team announced Wednesday that Josh Berry would take over for Harvick in the No. 4 car starting in 2024. Harvick, the 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion, announced before the season that he would retire after 2023.
“We’re super excited to get to this moment today,” team owner Tony Stewart said in making the announcement. “This was not a big group of people we had to make a choice from. We put all our eggs in one basket, and we put them on this kid.”
“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 [crew chief] Rodney Childers, to where we can hit the ground running.”
Berry, 34, isn’t the typical Cup Series prospect. But it’s hard to argue against his worthiness to get a shot with one of NASCAR’s top teams.
Berry made seven Xfinity Series starts from 2014-17 and never ran more than three races in a season. But his success in late models while driving for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s JR Motorsports earned him another shot in NASCAR’s second tier ahead of the 2021 season.
He’s taken full advantage of that opportunity while driving the No. 9 car for JRM. Berry won two races over 22 starts in 2021. He got the first win of his NASCAR career at Martinsville and then won later in the season at Las Vegas.
Those wins earned him a full-time ride in 2022. He won three races a season ago and had 20 top-10s on his way to a fourth-place finish in the standings. While he’s winless so far in 2023, his average finish is only slightly worse than it was in 2022 and he has 10 top-10 finishes in 14 starts.
Berry is also a logical replacement for Harvick. He should mesh well with Childers and is set up for more immediate success than drivers a decade younger because of his age and experience. Berry has already made eight Cup Series starts this season while serving as an injury sub for Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman at Hendrick Motorsports. Berry has a second-place finish at Richmond and two other top-10 finishes in those appearances.
Now that Berry is lined up to replace Harvick at SHR, the team ostensibly has three of its four cars set for the 2024 season. Chase Briscoe should be back in the No. 14 despite a disappointing season to date, and Ryan Preece is in his first year succeeding Cole Custer in the No. 41 car.
The future isn’t as clear for the No. 10 car, however. Aric Almirola returned to the Cup Series on a full-time basis in 2023 after initially announcing his retirement after the 2022 season. Almirola publicly hasn’t committed to driving in 2024, and SHR could be looking for another driver if Almirola decides to retire or scale back.