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LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 06: Justin Haley, driver of the #11 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet, drives during the NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco Uniforms 300 at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 06, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) | Getty Images
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 06: Justin Haley, driver of the #11 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet, drives during the NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco Uniforms 300 at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 06, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Justin Haley out at Dover due to COVID-19 protocols; Zane Smith to drive Xfinity race; Josh Berry in Cup

UPDATE 2: Spire Motorsports announced today that 2020 NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Racing Series Champion and 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Series’ race winner Josh Berry will make his NASCAR Cup Series debut driving the team’s No. 77 Diamond Creek High Alkaline Water Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE in Sunday’s Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway.

Berry will fill in for Justin Haley, who was originally scheduled to drive the No. 77 on Sunday. Haley has been temporarily sidelined in accordance with team and NASCAR COVID-19 protocols and will be unable to participate this weekend.

The Hendersonville, Tenn., native competes regularly for JR Motorsports and picked up his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series victory last month in the Cook Out 250 at Martinsville Speedway. In 15 career starts on NASCAR’s junior circuit, Berry has earned one win, two top-five and six top-10 finishes.

“First off, I hope Justin is doing well and I can’t wait to compete with him in a few weeks at Charlotte in the Xfinity Series,” said Berry. “I can’t thank Spire Motorsports enough for giving me the opportunity to compete in the NASCAR Cup Series for the first time. This is a great opportunity for me, and I am going to do my best to give the team a solid finish Sunday afternoon.”

Berry, a consistent winner throughout his career, stormed the late model stock car scene in 2020, tallying 27 victories in 40 starts, including a flag-to-flag victory in the Valley Star Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway and a dominant performance in the Old North State Nationals.

This season, the 30-year-old short-track standout picked up where he left in 2020, collecting his second consecutive $30,000 check by winning this year’s edition of the Old North State Nationals, leading 153 of the event’s 200 laps.

“We’re excited to provide Josh Berry with the opportunity to make his NASCAR Cup Series debut this weekend at Dover International Speedway,” said Spire Motorsports co-owner Jeff Dickerson. “It’s a little bittersweet because Justin Haley has to sit out this weekend, but at the same time, Josh has earned the opportunity to get a shot in the Cup Series. He’s a proven winner and raises the bar every time he gets in a race car. We know he’ll do a good job.”

“I couldn’t be more thrilled for Josh to get the call from Spire Motorsports to make his Cup racing debut,” added Dale Earnhardt Jr. “It’ll be thrilling for Josh to experience Cup action and I’m confident he will do a great job for them. Big thanks to Spire for presenting Josh with such an awesome opportunity.”

The Drydene 400 from Dover International Speedway will be televised live on FS1 Sunday, May 16 beginning at 2 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The 13th of 36 races on the 2021 NCS schedule will be broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.

— Spire Motorsports —

UPDATE: The updated NASCAR Cup Series entry list has Josh Berry listed as the driver of the #77.

ORIGINAL POST: 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 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. Zane Smith will drive the No. 11 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet on Saturday.

— Kaulig Racing —

NOTE: Haley was also scheduled to drive the #77 for Spire Motorsports in the Cup race.  A replacement driver has not been named.