Obaika Racing's Tanner Berryhill to Make NASCAR Premier Series Debut in Phoenix

Berryhill will drive the No. 97 Toyota in the 2018 Can-Am 500 at ISM Raceway.

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Tanner Berryhill will make his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut Sunday in the Can-Am 500 at ISM Raceway near Phoenix, the second-to-last race of the 2018 season. He’ll drive the No. 97 Toyota for Obaika Racing.

“I’m so excited to be racing for Obaika Racing again, and to be in the Cup Series is just incredible,” Berryhill said in a press release from the race team. “I’m so thankful to Victor Obaika for the chance to race his car and to Excel Therapy and VroomBrands for the support. I’m so excited to work along with the team this weekend.”

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ISM Raceway under Phoenix sun.

ISM Raceway is silent prior to NASCAR action at the track in March 2018.

The Phoenix event will be the second Cup Series race for Obaika Racing. The team made its series debut Nov. 4 at Texas Motor Speedway with David Starr as its driver. Starr finished 39th after starting 40th. Obaika Racing also plans to compete in NASCAR’s top series in the final race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 18 and in 2019, but a future driver has not yet been announced.

Obaika Racing attempted to make its Cup Series debut at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama last month, but the No. 97 failed to qualify for the race.

The NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix will be Berryhill’s first race in any NASCAR national series this season. He competed in 40 NASCAR Xfinity Series races between 2012 and 2014, 29 of those coming in 2014. His best Xfinity Series finish, to date, was a 17th at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 2014.

Only 40 drivers were on the preliminary entry list for the Can-Am 500, matching the number of available starting positions, so Berryhill was not in danger of failing to qualify. He eventually went 36th quickest and will line up as such on Sunday.

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