Max Gresham Wins Tim Richmond Memorial ARCA 200 at Mansfield (MANSFIELD, Ohio) - Max Gresham had an opening, and had no choice but to take it. Gresham led the final 47 laps at Mansfield Motorsports Park to win the Tim Richmond Memorial 200 in...
Max Gresham Wins Tim Richmond Memorial ARCA 200 at Mansfield
(MANSFIELD, Ohio) - Max Gresham had an opening, and had no choice but to take it. Gresham led the final 47 laps at Mansfield Motorsports Park to win the Tim Richmond Memorial 200 in just his third career ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards start.
"I'm overwhelmed with joy and happiness. It's awesome. We've had two great runs (sixth at Salem and 10th at Iowa) and here's a third one to cap it off," Gresham said while celebrating on track after the race. "There's been great work back at the shop, and this is a great deal for Gresham & Associates. I'm glad to come out here and rock the socks off of these guys."
Gresham, a 17-year-old from Griffin, Ga., pushed his No. 71 Gresham & Associates Toyota to the lead on Lap 138 of 200 when previous leader Chris Buescher's right front tire went flat, causing the driver to pull onto pit road. Buescher's No. 17 David Ragan Fan Club Ford had seemingly been the class of the field, and Roulo Brothers Racing appeared to be well on the way to another victory at an Ohio short track after winning at Toledo in May.
Buescher led the day's lone practice, easily won the Menards Pole Award presented by Ansell, and coasted to an easy lead over the first 64 laps. Joey Coulter, who started second, stayed there and helped Buescher create a two-car breakaway before Coulter's No. 16 Chevrolet was bumped by Josh Richards' No. 55 between Turns 3 and 4 on Lap 62. Coulter went to the wall, missing what appeared to be a prime opportunity at his first career win, and Gresham assumed the lead on the ensuing caution period.
The yellow flag stayed out far longer than expected, as Rob Jones had driven his No. 28 Chevrolet into Coulter as Coulter dropped down the banking, creating a longer delay. Gresham held the lead when the race went green again on Lap 80. Buescher, then sixth, bumped Frank Kimmel on Lap 83, seemed to move Justin Marks on Lap 85, passed Marks on Lap 86, and then moved within a car length of Chad McCumbee on Lap 87. Buescher passed McCumbee on Lap 89, and showed on the grid just over two seconds behind Gresham as that lap finished.
Meanwhile, Tom Hessert had steered his No. 77 Dodge to a very close third position, and the cars of Gresham, Buescher, and Hessert ran within a half-second of each other as the race reached its halfway point.
In the tight pack, Gresham showed the maturity of a driver with 17 years experience, not merely 17 years of age.
"I've been raised and trained to respect people and run with respect. I never mean to get into somebody, and that's every time I race. I feel confident to say I know what I'm doing," Gresham said.
Buescher finally reached Gresham for a pass on Lap 118, but would only hold the lead until his troublesome flat tire reared its ugly head just 20 laps later. He went several laps down but charged past several cars after exiting pit road to finish eighth.
"We were just racing hard. We had the best car. No doubt about it; everybody knows it. But it's just racing. You can't do a whole lot about it," Buescher said. "We were fast, and we led a lot of laps. The thing is, I had backed down. We were just rolling down the straightaway. It's just a tough day. What can you do? It's part of racing."
Buescher will enter his next ARCA Racing Series race at New Jersey Motorsports Park, a road course, on August 15. Gresham will return at Berlin (Mich.) Raceway on August 7.
Hessert and Goess each challenged for and traded the lead in the race's final 60 laps, but Gresham took the top spot with 48 to go and coasted to a 0.785-second victory over Goess and his No. 81 Toyota.
"A lot of the guys we're running for points with didn't have such a good night, and that can go either way with anybody," Goess said, referring to incoming points leader Justin Marks' 10th-place finish and Patrick Sheltra's 21st-place result. "We had some bad luck in the pits but we were able to fight back from it. The guys put together a good car. I just wish we could have had a long run."
Goess will enter the series' next race, at Pocono, as the track's most recent ARCA winner.
"I'm certainly going to be comfortable going there and hoping that we're going to have another good car. I feel like we will. If we can take what we learned from the last race (in June), maybe we'll even be a little bit faster," Goess said.
Frank Kimmel finished third in the No. 44 Ansell/Menards Ford for his fifth consecutive finish in the top six.
"It was just a clean run," Kimmel said. "The lapped traffic was pretty exciting. Some guys, I think, just didn't figure out they were supposed to be on the bottom. Other than that, we had some great racing. Dakoda (Armstrong) ran really well, and how about Tim George Jr.? He put together a really great race."
George ended the night in fourth and Armstrong finished fifth.
With another high finish, Kimmel is appearing to show the consistency that helped him to nine ARCA Racing Series championships between 1998 and 2007.
"The strategy is just to get the best finish with what you've got that night, and I think tonight we did. We'll go on from there," Kimmel said.
Chad McCumbee, Buescher, Hessert, Mikey Kile, and Marks rounded out the top ten.
Marks remains the series points leader, but saw his margin over second trimmed to 50. Goess is the new driver in second place, and Kimmel advanced to third. Sheltra dropped to fourth, and Hessert stands fifth at the season's halfway point.
The race slowed for five cautions, equaling 40 laps. Gresham led 110 laps, and Buescher followed with 83. Goess led five and Hessert led two. At an average speed of 75.491 mph and an elapsed time of one hour, 19 minutes, and 28 seconds, the race easily beat the 2009 mark of one hour, 39 minutes, and two seconds (60.586 mph).
The ARCA Racing Series returns to action in two weeks with the Weis Markets 125 at Pocono Raceway. On-track activity begins on Friday, July 30, with live timing and scoring and live audio coverage of practice and Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell available at ARCARacing.com. The 50-lap, 125-mile race goes green at 3 p.m. Eastern on Saturday, July 31, with live television coverage provided by SPEED.