The Summit USMTS National Championship presented by RacinDirt tests the skill of the nation’s best and most successful dirt modified drivers on the planet, and Tom Berry Jr. put his skills on display during the opening weekend of action for the 2023 season.
The series kicked off the 25th season of USMTS at the 13th Annual Summit Spring Nationals at the Rocket Raceway Park in Petty, Texas, with an event record 87 entries. Drivers had one eye on the $10,000 winner’s share of the purse and the other on the $100,000 paycheck awaiting the 2023 USMTS National Champion at season’s end.
Five of the drivers in the first six rows to start the 40-lap main event were seeking their first USMTS victory, but when the checkered flag waved it was just four as Tom Berry Jr. scored his first win in the kickoff to his quest for the Grant Junghans USMTS Rookie of the Year title.
Berry comes from a deeply rooted family legacy which includes his grandfather, Bill Berry, who was a professional drag boat racer who held the world record in 1967 and 1968, and his father, Tom Berry Sr., a professional AMA flat track racer from 1970-1980.
A third generation racer from Oregon now living in Des Moines, Iowa, Berry captured two USMTS checkered flags in 2023, and wrapped up the season with two top-10 finishes at the Arrowhead Speedway to clinch the Grant Junghans USMTS Rookie of the Year Award.
Grant Junghans USMTS Rookie of the Year
Final 2023 standings and statistics
1. 11X Tom Berry Jr., Des Moines, Iowa … 1784 (2 wins)
2. K9 Will Krup, Mt. Carmel, Ill. … 1727
3. 4 Jeremy Nelson, Alexandria, Minn. … 1587
4. 58X Gary Christian, Broken Bow, Okla. … 1508
5. 99L Steve Lavasseur, River Falls, Wis. … 1321
Rookie points are awarded to each eligible competitor based on their best twenty-four (24) points efforts during the year. Eligible drivers have not participated in more than twenty-four (24) USMTS events prior to the current year, or won a USMTS “A” Main during a prior year.
Grant Junghans USMTS Rookie of the Year Award winners:
2000 – Kevin Peters, Monmouth, Ill.
2001 – Jason Hughes, Salina, Okla.
2002 – Justin Boney. Leavenworth, Kan.
2003 – Corey Dripps, Cedar Falls, Iowa
2004 – Zack VanderBeek, New Sharon, Iowa
2005 – Brad McEwan, Storm Lake, Iowa
2006 – Jay Poidinger, Somerset, Wis.
2007 – Scott Green, Derby, Kan.
2008 – Brandon Kenny, Woodward, Okla.
2009 – Grant Junghans, Manhattan, Kan.
2010 – Johnny Scott, Las Cruces, N.M.
2011 – Jason Grimes. Jamestown, N.D.
2012 – Stormy Scott, Las Cruces, N.M.
2013 – Trevor Hunt, Kearney, Mo.
2014 – Cade Dillard, Robeline, La.
2015 – Jesse Sobbing, Malvern, Iowa
2016 – Ricky Thornton Jr., Chandler, Ariz.
2017 – R.C. Whitwell, Tucson, Ariz.
2018 – Jake O’Neil, Tucson, Ariz.
2019 – Hunter Mariott, Brookfield, Mo.
2020 – Tanner Mullens, Wichita, Kan.
2021 – Brooks Strength, Raymond, Miss.
2022 – Cayden Carter, Oskaloosa, Iowa
2023 – Tom Berry Jr., Des Moines, Iowa.
With 24 different drivers garnering the USMTS rookie title, five of them have never won a USMTS feature, although the other 19 have a combined 398 victories during their careers.
Only Hughes (2001) and Johnny Scott (2010) went on to also win a USMTS national championship. Hughes has four while Scott has one.
Among those competing for the rookie title in 2023, drivers still below the starts threshold and eligible to compete for the honors in 2024 include Randy Brown, Cody Thompson, Jacob Hobscheidt, Trevor Hughes, Colton Eck, Wyatt Gaggero, Daniel Drury, Chase Wascom, Corey Neil Jr., Brennan Gave, Cory Davis, Tyler Barker and Casey Schlichting.
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