If there’s something strange in your driver’s seat, who you gonna call? Josh Berry!
For the fifth time in 2021, Berry will be a substitute driver as Spire Motorsports has announced Corey LaJoie will be unable to run Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway due to COVID-19 protocols. Berry will drive the #7 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE in his place, marking his third COVID-related backup role.
Berry ran much of the Xfinity Series‘ first-half schedule for JR Motorsports, during which he won his first series race at Martinsville in April. Although Sam Mayer has since taken over JRM’s #8 from Berry for the rest of the year, he has continued racing sporadically, running three races for Jordan Anderson Racing and substiuting for the injured Michael Annett in JRM’s #1 at New Hampshire in July.
Interestingly, his Cup début at Dover in May also came with Spire for COVID reasons. Prior to that race, Spire’s #77 driver Justin Haley was ruled out because of COVID protocols, and Berry filled in and finished thirtieth. Two months prior, Berry ran his first Camping World Truck Series race since 2016 at Atlanta after Young’s Motorsports driver Kris Wright tested positive for the coronavirus. Berry’s substitute duties also extended to him running the last five Truck races for Rackley WAR as the replacement for the ousted Timothy Peters.
While LaJoie, who sits twenty-ninth in points, did not have a positive test, he explained on SiriusXM that someone at his Stacking Pennies podcast’s studio did on Monday. Under NASCAR’s close contact rules, unvaccinated individuals must quarantine for seven days and can return provided a negative test and no symptoms (those who are vaccinated do not need to quarantine but must be tested after three to five days).
With two races until the playoffs, LaJoie will receive a waiver to participate should he win the regular season finale at Daytona.
LaJoie is not the only personnel who will miss Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 due to COVID-19. Kyle Busch‘s spotter Tony Hirschman will also sit out the race as he tested positive, meaning Jason Hedlesky will fill the position.