Justin Haley will sit out this weekend; Josh Berry to make NASCAR Cup Series debut
This weekend, NASCAR returns to Dover, Delaware. Dover International Speedway hosts the NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series on the 1-mile oval.
Leading into the weekend, Justin Haley has removed himself from the entry lists. The team detailed COVID protocols in the announcement.
Ahead of this weekend, NASCAR lifted a mask mandate in the infield. Masks still must be worn indoors and in haulers but no in outdoor areas.
Haley was set to run double-duty. He was set to drive the Kaulig Racing No. 11 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. He was also set to run the No. 77 for Spire Motorsports.
Now, Zane Smith will climb into the seat, driving the NASCAR Xfinity machine.
On Sunday, 30-year-old Josh Berry will pilot the No. 77 in the NASCAR Cup Series. Berry will make his debut in the series.
Last year, Jimmie Johnson and Austin Dillon both missed races as a result of COVID-19. In each case, they were given a waver to make the playoffs on points or wins.
Kaulig Racing comment
“In accordance with NASCAR’s COVID-19 protocols, Justin Haley will not compete in this weekend’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Dover International Speedway,” Kaulig Racing said in a statement.
“Kaulig Racing continues to fully adhere to NASCAR’s safety protocols, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, to ensure the safety of its employees and fellow competitors.”
They concluded, “Zane Smith will drive the No. 11 LeafFilter Gutter Protection chevrolet on Saturday.
Zane Smith comments
Zane Smith has run every NASCAR Truck Series event in 2021. He’s finished in the top-10, four times of his eight starts.
“Bummed for Justin & hoping for a quick return but Excited for this opportunity, can’t wait to be back in a Xfinity car at one of my favorite places,” Zane Smith said in a social media statement. “Last time we were there it went pretty good! Hope to represent Kaulig Racing the best I can and give my miles the monster a friend!”
Smith has made 10 starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, all in 2019. He has tallied seven top-10s in the division.
Josh Berry comments
Josh Berry has run 8 of 10 races in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for 2021. He’s collected a race win and four top-10s for JR Motorsports.
“Hate the circumstances with Justin, but so thankful to get this opportunity! Thank you Spire Motorsport,” Berry said.