Gresham Finishes Fourth In Bowman Gray
At a track where starting up front is a must, Max Gresham proved you could rally for a good finish from the back coming home fourth in Saturday’s Army Strong 150 at Bowman Gray Stadium.
Gresham – who also had the luxury of starting up front – recovered from an accident that put him 21st in the running order with just 70 laps to go. The solid finish left an impression on the 18-year-old Joe Gibbs Racing team driver.
“It was definitely an achievement to come from the back to finish fourth,” said Gresham. “We’ve never raced at a place like this before. It was crazy out there, bottom feeder heaven. I passed a lot of guys on the top because everyone would just get so bunched up down on the bottom. We could make some moves up top. My Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota was a rocket ship, really hooked up, and my crew made the move of the race when we had to pit. It was a great effort by everyone. We were able to fight our way up to another solid top-five finish – to continue our string of top-five finishes.”
Gresham was on point from the time they opened the tiny quarter-mile Bowman Gray Stadium oval Friday afternoon setting the fastest time in practice with a lap of 14.366 seconds. Another low qualifying draw – this one the fifth position – put Max on track early in Friday evening time trials producing the sixth-best time of the session, a 14.975 effort.
That put Gresham on the outside of the third row at the drop of the green flag Saturday in the Army Strong 150. Over the first 75 laps, the now Huntersville, NC resident ran as high as fourth and as low as seventh. Passing was a premium depending on which restart lane you had – inside or outside – and the field slowed six times for cautions over the first half of the race thanks to spins and wrecks.
In all, 15 cautions slowed the race for 87 of the 156 completed circuits.
Gresham proved to be a part of the seventh caution of the race on Lap 77 when he was hit and spun from behind as the leaders sped into Turn 3. The soon to be Belmont Abbey College freshman was able to get his Toyota racer refired and in front of the pace car to stay on the lead lap.
Even quicker work by his pit crew kept him there.
“We got turned around in Turns 3-4 and we had to come in to the pit area to make sure all the fenders were off the tires and the tires were all up,” said Gresham. “Here at Bowman Gray, the pits are outside the track, so I really have to give it to my Joe Gibbs Racing team guys. Those guys busted it all weekend. They got me in and out of the pits fast. I just barely made it back out in front of the pace car, so we didn’t lose a lap in the pits. That was really a key point in the race for us tonight.”
That set the stage for Gresham’s rally from 21st to fourth place over the final 70 circuits – including picking up two spots on a final green-white-checkered-flag finish. The effort was Gresham’s fourth-straight top-five finish and jumped him to third in the 2011 division championship battle. Gresham – who has averaged a third-place finish over the past four events – is now just 30 points out of first place.
“This was our Talladega race,” said Gresham. “This was the one you had to survive and some of the guys who were up in the points got bit tonight. Fortunately, we survived our trouble. We had a great run and gained in the points. This race definitely bunched us all back up. This was an awesome place to race. I think we put on a great show for the fans. They can’t say there wasn’t plenty of action. Best of all, we were able to bring home our World Crown 300 Toyota fourth. Now it’s on to Gresham Motorsports Park.”
The Army Strong 150 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East event at Bowman Gray Stadium will be telecast on SPEED this Thursday, June 9, at 6 p.m. Eastern Time.
Gresham and his No.18 Joe Gibbs Racing/Live Oak Plantation Toyota will next take the green flag on Saturday, June 11. The NASCAR K&N Pro Series Slack Auto Parts 150 will roll off at Gresham Motorsports Park in Jefferson, GA at 8 p.m. Eastern Time.
For more information about the event, please log on to www.GreshamMotorsportsPark.com.
Additional information about the Joe Gibbs Racing NASCAR K&N Pro Series effort can be viewed at www.JoeGibbsRacing.com.
To discuss NASCAR marketing opportunities with Max Gresham, please contact J.R. Longley at JRLongley@MaxGresham.com or at 706-581-6970.