An Oklahoma native is driving his way into competing at the highest level of racing.
"There's no formula that explains why or how I got here” NASCAR driver Tanner Berryhill said. “I just kind of pursued NASCAR, and it's been a dream of mine since I was a little kid."
He went from the dirt tracks in Oklahoma to racing his second NASCAR Cup Series race at 24 years old.
When the green flag dropped last weekend in Arizona, an Oklahoman got a chance of a lifetime.
“In the Cup Series it's just… It's the nitty gritty,” Berryhill said. “It's the best of the best. Everyone in racing pretty much aspires to be a NASCAR driver."
Berryhill grew up with racing, leaving Bixby High School his junior year to pursue his goal in North Carolina.
“I just always wanted to race in NASCAR, so I just kept digging towards that dream,” he said. “I didn't take no as an answer, and here I am 24 years later doing it."
With family ties to the Chili Bowl, racing is in his family's DNA. After 13 years chasing the checkered flag, this summer he got the call any race car driver could ask for.
“A lot of times like people back home ask me they're like, 'hey you race in NASCAR, that's cool, like what kind of NASCAR? What form of NASCAR?' Berryhill said. “I'm like, 'this past weekend it was the Cup Series. I raced on Sunday with Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch and that was surreal. I always looked up to them."
Berryhill says he became the first Oklahoman since Randy Odgen to qualify for a cup series race.
Phoenix was Berryhill's first start.
“It ended a little early, a little premature... We broke a ball joint with like 20 laps out of the 312-mile race,” Berryhill said. “That was unfortunate, but he was still pretty happy with my performance and now we're going to Homestead.”
It's just the start – with a new team that could carry him into the 2019 season.
“It’s cool to be a part of it, and I hope everyone follows along,” he said.
Berryhill will compete in championship race this weekend.
You can catch him Sunday at 2 p.m. on KJRH, the final NASCAR Cup Series race of the season on NBC.
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