Photo credit: Nigel Kinrade Photography

Josh Berry a dark horse driver entering New Hampshire race

Multiple Cup drivers have previous wins at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, but one winless driver stands out as a dark horse for Sunday's race (2:30 p.m. ET on USA Network).

Josh Berry, currently in his rookie season with Stewart-Haas Racing, has continued to get better as he and the No. 4 team have built chemistry in the first 17 races. They have run particularly well at NASCAR's shorter tracks, a testament to a short track background shared by Berry and crew chief Rodney Childers.

The spring race at Bristol was a fitting example. Berry led 25 laps after starting second, and he finished 12th. This was his best finish of the season, although he surpassed it two weeks later when he crossed the line 11th at Richmond.

An uncontrolled tire penalty disrupted Berry's race at Martinsville, but he rebounded at Dover with a 14th-place finish.

Sunday night's race at Iowa marked another significant step for Berry. He started third after rain forced NASCAR to alter Saturday's qualifying session. He then led a career-high 32 laps while scoring 15 stage points.

Berry was in the lead during the final stage when Chris Buescher brought out the caution with a flat right front tire. This sent drivers down pit road for fresh tires. Berry's team took four Goodyear tires while Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney gambled with two-tire stops.

The four-tire stop dropped Berry in the running order and kept him from contending for the win late. He still crossed the line seventh, his third top-10 finish in the last five races.

"I thought we had a really good race and a really good car," Berry said after the race. "To score stage points like we did, we had some great restarts in there and just that last restart didn't really go our way.

"We lost a little bit of track position and just could never get it back but, all in all, just really proud of everybody on the 4 team. They did a great job. That was a lot of fun, for sure. We're going to keep digging to keep getting better."

Berry has made improvements in his rookie season and now he heads to another track shorter in length, one where his crew chief has significant success.

Childers has been atop the pit box for 31 races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He has helped his drivers combine for 18 top-10 finishes. More importantly, Childers has celebrated four wins at the 1.058-mile track.

The veteran crew chief's first win at New Hampshire was in 2013. Brian Vickers was the driver of the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota, and he led the final 16 laps of the race.

Childers' other three wins at New Hampshire were with Kevin Harvick and Stewart-Haas Racing. They first won at the track in 2016 and then they went back-to-back in 2018-19.

Wins are one thing, but Childers and Harvick also had sustained success at the New England track. They only had three finishes worse than sixth in 14 races together at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

While Berry has no Cup starts at New Hampshire, he will be set up for success during Sunday's race. He has more confidence behind the wheel of the Next Gen car, and he has a crew chief who knows how to be in the mix for wins regardless of car generation.

Now Berry just has to capitalize during qualifying and the race.