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Gresham Rallies For Runner-Up Finish In NASCAR K&N East/West Challenge At Iowa
NEWTON, IA (May 23, 2011) – After winning one of the closest races in NASCAR K&N Pro Series history last year at Iowa Speedway, you would think Max Gresham would have been satisfied with nothing less than another victory in Saturday’s Pork Be Inspired 175 K&N clash at the Newton, IA oval.
That wasn’t the case, however, as Gresham roared his No 18. Live Oak Plantation/Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota from the 23rd starting position to a second-place finish behind race winner Brett Moffitt.
“Heck yeah, I’m happy with second,” said Gresham after Saturday’s race. “I’m not sure we had anything for the 00 (Moffitt) at the end, but we did have a great battle with Eddie MacDonald for second. It was a fun race racing with him to the end, Honestly, I’m just happy to come out of here with a second-place finish. It was a great point’s night for us and that’s what we want to do, just keep on racking up the points.”
Gresham proved he would again be one of the drivers to beat posting the second fastest speed out of a massive field of 58 cars in practice. The recent Woodward Academy high school graduate hoped to have a pole run, but an early qualifying draw and a loose race car had Gresham posting a lap of 129.310 miles per hour – good enough only for the 23rd spot in the 40-car starting field.
“We were just really loose in qualifying,” said Gresham. “I almost wrecked a couple of times. Fortunately, that didn’t happen.”
At the drop of the green flag, Gresham quickly picked up five spots in the first five laps of the race. Gaining ground was difficult, however, thanks to the great competition and the five caution periods that spiced the first 50 circuits.
“It was definitely tough the first half of the race,” Gresham stated. “The goal was to just keep the fenders on the car and we were able to work our way into the top 15 doing that. That paid big benefits after we were able to do our pit stop later in the race.”
Those ‘benefits’ came at Lap 88 caution period when Gresham headed to pit road and the assistance of his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates.
“We actually made three pit stops during that caution,” said Gresham. “We came in once for gas, once for right-side tires and once for lefts. It was kind of a like a goat rodeo. You have cars coming in and out of the pits and just avoiding everybody was a real challenge. It was tough, but my spotter Jeff Bailey, did a great job getting me in and out of the pits and my Joe Gibbs Racing team pit crew was super fast. We picked up eight spots from 14th to sixth and that definitely helped me save my tires to race at the end. What we did on pit road was the biggest thing that in getting us the great finish in this race.”
Gresham wasted little time putting the pit road advantage to work speeding from sixth to third in just six laps. Later on Lap 126, Gresham rolled around Benny Gordon for the second spot and set his sights on Moffitt who was ahead by 2.69 seconds.
Try as he might, Gresham wasn’t able to run down Moffitt and despite a late restart that closed the gap, the 18-year-old driver couldn’t pull the trigger on his first win of the 2011 NASCAR K&N season.
“I might have screwed up a little on the restart,” said Gresham of the late opportunity. “We just didn’t go like I needed to and Brett got a great restart. We weren’t going to chase him down and had to work pretty hard to hold off Eddie.”
The solid runner-up effort jumped Gresham from seventh to fifth in the 2011 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season championship point standings, Gresham now has 605 points is only 41 markers out of the top spot.
Gresham will now have a busy week moving from Griffin, GA to Charlotte, NC and traveling to Michigan International Speedway for an ARCA superspeedway test with Venturini Motorsports.
Gresham’s next NASCAR K&N event will be on Saturday, June 4 when the East division visits historic Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston Salem, NC. The event, which will be part of a NASCAR doubleheader that also features the Whelan Modified Series, will take the green flag at 8 p.m. Eastern Time.
You can follow Gresham at www.MaxGresham.com – or on Twitter@MaxGresham and on Facebook at Max Gresham Fan Page
Additional information about the Joe Gibbs Racing NASCAR K&N Pro Series effort can be viewed at www.JoeGibbsRacing.com.
To discuss NASCAR and ARCA marketing opportunities with Max Gresham, please contact J.R. Longley at JRLongley@MaxGresham.com or at 706-581-6970.
Brian Scott, Michael McDowell, and Drew Herring waited out rainy weather all weekend in Iowa to compete in the Nationwide Series race there on Sunday afternoon. After starting on the front row, Herring in the No. 20 SportClips Toyota and McDowell in the No. 18 Pizza Ranch Toyota settled for 12th and 7th place finishes respectively. Brian Scott was running 19th late in the event when contact with another car heading into turn one sent the No. 11 Shore Lodge Camry spinning into the outside wall. Enjoy these photos from the event:
The NASCAR Sprint All-Star race unique in many ways with no championship points at stake, but rather a large prize reward for the victor. In addition, it is the shortest race of the season with a total of 100 laps run in four segments, including a 50-lap segment to open the race, followed by two 20-lap segments and a final 10-lap dash to the checkered flag.
Kyle Busch qualified the No. 18 M&Ms Toyota on the pole and led the first several laps of the race before dropping back into the third position for the remainder of the first segment. Busch held on to that position for much of the second 20-lap segment as well. The M&Ms made the decision not to pit following the second segment and Busch started second on the outside lane to open the third portion of the race. He was able to beat Carl Edwards on the restart and claim the lead once again. Edwards would eventually reclaim the lead just prior to the end of the third segment. With a 10-minute break before the final 10-lap segments teams were able to work on the car for an extended period of time. When the 10-minute break concluded all teams would come to the pits for a four tire change. Busch would restart second, but wasn’t able to track down Edwards and went on to finish in that second position.
Denny Hamlin started the No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota in the 15th position and used the first 50-lap segment to get a good read on his car and gain a couple of spots in the field. He would enter the top 10 for the first time on lap 60 following a caution in the middle of the second segment of the race. Hamlin would jump into the sixth position to open the third segment and enter the top five for the first time on lap 80. He would finish that third segment in the fifth position and the team used the 10-minute break to make final adjustments to the car. The No. 11 Camry would restart the final segment in the sixth position following the four-tire change. Unfortunately Hamlin wasn’t able to improve on his position over those final laps and went on to finish the night seventh.
Joey Logano entered the day needing to race his way into the All-Star race in the 40-lap Showdown event earlier in the evening. Unfortunately, only the top-two finishers would be able to advance into the main event, and Logano was hampered from the outset in a short race when he was forced to start his No. 20 Home Depot Toyota from the back of the field following an engine change on Friday. Despite that setback Logano and The Home Depot made an impressive run to the front of the field, climbing from 27th to eighth place in the first 20 lap segment. He was able to put the No. 20 Camry as high as third late in the race but just wasn’t able to close the gap on the second-place car. He went on to finish fifth and unfortunately out of the All-Star Race.
Carl Edwards captured the victory, while Busch finished second, David Reutimann was third, Tony Stewart was fourth and Greg Biffle rounded out the top five.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will remain in Charlotte next week for the circuit’s annual marathon event, the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The Coca-Cola 600 will be televised live by Fox on Saturday, May 29 starting with pre-race coverage at 6 PM ET. The race will also be carried on Sirius Radio NASCAR channel 90.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing team, which pits the car of driver Denny Hamlin, became the first back-to-back winner of the Sprint Pit Crew Challenge, defeating the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team, which pits the car of five-time defending Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson.
In a matchup of the teams that finished 1-2 in last year’s Cup standings, the No. 11 completed its stop — jacking the car, fueling and changing front and rear tires — and pushed its Toyota across the finish line in 22.298 seconds to 22.714 for the No. 48 Chevrolet.
Scott Wood (gas man), Justin White (second gas can man), Nick Krizmanich (front tire changer), Brandon Pegram (front tire carrier), Mike Hicks (rear tire changer), Heath Cherry (rear tire carrier) and Nate Bolling (jack man) made up the winning team.
Asked what the defining characteristic of his crew is, Hamlin joked, “They’re all bigger than me, and they can all beat my [butt].”
The team took particular pleasure in beating the No. 48 squad.
“Any time we can beat the 48 … it’s especially gratifying to beat them,” Wood said. “And going back-to-back is especially gratifying, too. But we’d trade this in a heartbeat to beat ‘em at the end of the year — when it counts.”
As was the case last year, the victory in the Pit Crew Challenge will give Hamlin first choice of pit stalls for Saturday night’s Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The no-brainer selection is pit stall No. 1, closest to the exit from pit road.
The No. 11 crew beat the No. 22 (Kurt Busch) to set up a semifinal matchup against the crowd-favorite No. 88 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.), which beat the No. 27 (Paul Menard) Richard Childress Racing entry. Though Earnhardt was on hand to cheer his crew, Hamlin’s team prevailed in one of the closest races of the evening — 22.259 seconds to 23.325.
In the other semifinal, the No. 14 team of owner/driver Tony Stewart beat the No. 48 across the finish line, but drew 10 seconds of penalties for fueling issues. As a result, the No. 48 team advanced.
Fueling problems with the new closed system mandated by NASCAR this year cost Stewart dearly in last Sunday’s race at Dover. Though the Pit Crew Challenge featured the fueling system in place last year, it nevertheless proved the downfall of the No. 14 Chevrolet team, which had performed flawlessly in advancing to the semifinals.
The individual competition was dominated by the No. 33 Chevrolet team of Clint Bowyer and Stewart’s No. 14 team, as members of those two crews broke event records in every individual category.
The rear tire changer/rear tire carrier combination of Dustin Necaise and Matt Kreuter (No. 33) completed their skills in 13.846 seconds in winning the competition for the second consecutive year. They joined teammates Jason Pulver and Austin Craven (front tire changer/carrier) who completed their skills in 13.901 seconds.
“The thing was, those old records were on short wheel studs,” Kreuter said, noting that the wheels studs were lengthened before the start of 2011 season. “That tells you how far all these tire changers have come.”
Mike Casto of the No. 14 Chevy won the competition for fastest jack man in 5.071 seconds, while teammates Rick Pigeon and Ryan Flores won the individual competition among gas men in 8.652 seconds.
Each individual champion won $10,000. The winning team collected $70,675.
Sporting News Wire Service