BOONE, Iowa — If there is a favorite to win the modified portion of the IMCA Speedway Motors Super Nationals presented by Casey’s, it may be Tom Berry.
Berry enters the 38th running of the Super Nationals at Iowa’s Boone Speedway with more than 15 modified victories this season and sits atop the IMCA modified national championship standings by one point over Brandon Beckendorf.
His most recent victory came on Aug. 30 when he captured the IMCA Dirt Knights season finale at Benton County Speedway in Vinton, Iowa. The victory, which came in the tour’s 100th event, was the latest triumph in what is becoming a career-best season for Berry.
Why has Berry been so successful this year?
“Oh, just running three nights a week really,” the 25-year-old Berry said. “We’ve had an awesome season. Really we’ve just been super consistent and we’ve been able to put my car really wherever we need to on a track.
“It’s hard every night, no matter what. It’s never easy, but I feel like what’s been my make or break this year (is) I’ve been able to get through traffic really well.”
His weekly racing schedule has certainly kept him busy. On Wednesday’s he typically races at Stuart (Iowa) Int’l Speedway, followed by a trip to Marshalltown (Iowa) Speedway on Friday evenings. He closes out his weekends at Benton County Speedway on Saturday nights.
He’s doing all that racing while also working for a trucking company, a job he took after moving from North Dakota to Des Moines, Iowa, earlier this year.
“I still hold a 30-hour-per-week job and that seems like it has helped to where I’ve kind of relaxed on that a little bit,” Berry said. “I’m still working three, four days a week, but kind of slow down my hours when I’m doing good. Obviously, my boss working with me, too, helps a bunch.”
Berry knows how difficult it is to compete at the Super Nationals, having qualified for the modified main event last year. He finished sixth in the feature and hopes to be in contention for the top prize this season. Berry knows he’ll need luck on his side as well.
“A lot of it’s luck,” Berry said. “I’ve taken the lead in qualifiers before and been spun. So it takes a lot of luck, a lot of respect. With me winning a lot and my name being bigger out here now, I feel like that helps a little bit. It kind of helps and hurts because some people are jealous, but for the most part but I feel like people respect you a little bit more.
“I feel like if you’ve got a respected name that helps a bunch because people give and take a little bit more,” Berry continued. “Like last year, I started second row the qualifying heat. The front two guys jumped the start twice, so I got moved to the front row and ended up winning that deal. Then we drew I think a six or something for the qualifier and we got up to second behind Ricky (Thornton Jr.) and I ended up finishing there. Passed tech and everything and went on to start in the second row of the big show.
“So it was kind of a luck of the draw.”
While winning the Super Nationals would be the cherry on top of an already incredible season, Berry admits what he’s done this year up to this point has already been a game changer for his racing program.
“Even just what we’ve done, leading the national points up to now, it’s helped me out tremendously with sponsorships,” Berry said. “Just winning like I have been has been a big help and a big blessing because it makes my program better. I can put more focus on that, and that obviously, I feel like, it shows in the middle of the year.
“I think the whole program changed this year. I finally got the right deal backing me and the ability to work on it all week and put in the hours at the shop, that helps me perform on the weekends.”