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Gresham Grabs 10th at Salem

SALEM, IN (SEPTEMBER 18, 2011) – The final rundown of will show Max Gresham finished 10th in Saturday’s Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) Kentuckiana Ford Dealers Fall Classic at Salem (IN) Speedway.

In reality, Gresham was way better than that.

Gresham and his No. 55 Venturini Motorsports entry were easily the fastest car throughout most of the 200-lap event on the treacherous Salem half-mile oval, but a cut tire and a green-flag pit stop for new rubber in the early going put him four laps down to the leaders.

Undaunted, Gresham put on an amazing show wheeling his way back to the solid Top-10 finish.

“All in all, we had a good day,” said Gresham. “It was unfortunate we cut down that right front tire early in the race. After that, the car was a rocket ship. We just kept our heads on straight and we worked our way back through the field. We were four laps down and we raced our way back to two laps down. We had a bad fast racecar for a long period of the race. They definitely knew we were here.”

Gresham had one of the best cars on the lot all day as he qualified third in the 34-car field with a lap of 17.385 seconds. At the drop of the green, the 18-year-old Griffin, GA driver settled in for the long haul, cruising along in the third spot with a strategy of saving his equipment for the final laps.

That all went out the window as Gresham cut down a tire and pasted the Turn 1 wall on Lap 43. Despite quick service by his Kevin Caldwell led Venturini Motorsports crew, Gresham was now in 19th position, four laps down to the field as he returned to the track.

Over the next 90 laps, Gresham put on a dazzling display of driving racing his way back through the pack. Running lap times nearly one second faster than the leaders, Gresham made up two laps under green cracking the Top-10 by Lap 138.

A caution flag on Lap 148 finally brought Gresham’s scintillating run to a halt and produced the line of the night as Gresham radioed his crew and inquired, “have I passed 1,000 cars yet?”

A pit stop for right-side tires and fuel during the caution didn’t produce the desired results as Gresham wasn’t able to pick up any additional positions battling a loose handling condition over the final 50 circuits. According to Gresham, it was the yellow flag and not his racecar that sunk his chances of a better finish.

“We were hoping the race would go green the rest of the way,” said Gresham. “Unfortunately, the yellow came out a couple of times near the end of the race and that kind of settled things. We had an advantage with four fresh tires on that green-flag run. I just wish it could have stayed that way.

“It’s so much fun when you have a car that good and you can show off your skills,” Gresham continued. “I feel like I’m pretty good at getting through traffic, not losing momentum and putting them in my mirror. It’s just fun when you can pass someone that you know that’s a top contender in the series. Tonight, we drove by everybody.”

Gresham’s effort also left a big impression on Caldwell, who was working with the young driver for the first time.

“I’m real proud of the job that Max did,” said the veteran NASCAR and ARCA crew chief. “We had an awesome car and Max drove it well. What a phenomenal job he did. He drove back through the field to get us a lap back, not once, but twice during that sequence after we cut a tire. I’m very proud of him. Max and everyone on this team did an amazing job.”

Gresham, who has one race left on his 2011 ARCA schedule later this season at Kansas Speedway, will now return to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series division this Friday, September 23 in the New Hampshire 125 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Gresham and his No 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota have a 65-point lead in the division’s championship chase with two races remaining. Gresham, the winner of the first NKNPSE race of the season at New Hampshire in July, will take the green flag in this Friday’s at 4:45 p.m. Eastern Time.

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