Photo credit: Nigel Kinrade Photography

Josh Berry wants to make a difference at Wood Brothers Racing

CONCORD, N.C. -- Minutes after announcing that he would move to Wood Brothers Racing starting in 2025, Josh Berry acknowledged that there is a challenge ahead of him as he takes over an iconic car.

However, this is a challenge he will embrace.

"I think (the Wood Brothers) have been public in saying that they're not running like they want to," Berry told media members Wednesday at the Ford Performance Center. "I don't feel bad, I guess, in saying that, but I look at the opportunity for me to go there and make a difference and that's pretty special."

The No. 21 car with its red and white scheme is legendary in NASCAR. It has been the chariot driven by such names as Junior Johnson, Speedy Thompson, AJ Foyt, Marvin Panch, Cale Yarborough, Neil Bonnett, and Dale Jarrett.

The Wood family has celebrated 99 Cup wins with a wide variety of drivers but has not done so since Ryan Blaney conquered Pocono Raceway in 2017.

Paul Menard, Matt DiBenedetto, and Harrison Burton had moments where they were in the mix, but they ultimately fell short of victory lane and the 100th Wood Brother Racing win.

"I mean it's been frustrating," team president Jon Wood said about the last few years. "You want to see your team improving and you want to be able to look at stats and say, 'our trajectory, from left to right, is going up.' I'm not sure that we've seen those results.

"And again, if that's on us, okay, it's our fault. If some of that is shared by the driver, okay, that's fine too. There are certain aspects we can control and making the change in the driver is one of the things we can control to see if that gives us better results."

Berry has not won a race at the Cup level, but he has been in the mix throughout his rookie season. He has led laps at multiple tracks, and he put himself within reach of a win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Berry's improvement at Stewart-Haas Racing, as well as his ability to avoid wrecks, made him a "top candidate" for the Wood Brothers Racing entry. However, the success in limited runs with Hendrick Motorsports also played a significant role in the decision.

"There are people that get in (Next Gen cars) and never look good," Wood said. "Not really gonna point any out, but like there are guys that just can't make it work. And he's done it in three different car numbers, two different manufacturers and (with) three different crew chiefs. He had about the same results in all three.

"...You kind of have to look at it from a 30,000-foot view. A guy that does well at a track like Sonoma isn't necessarily going to be what you want for the rest of the season. A guy that does well at Richmond, same thing. He did well at road courses and short tracks, at Vegas, all these different places."

The Wood family has as history of success in NASCAR; Berry has shown he can compete for wins on the Cup level.

That doesn't mean that getting the No. 21 car back to victory lane will be a quick and easy process, but that's ok. Berry is ready for the challenge.

"I feel like they're getting somebody that's not going to quit," Berry said. "I mean, I've worked way too hard at this and done it for so long.

"...I've had to grind it out for years to get to this point, and I feel like I've proven myself over and over again."