Gresham Notches Another Top-10 Finish In Gibbs Driver Development Ride At New HampshireJ LOUDON, NH (September 20, 2009) -- Max Gresham closed out a successful four-race run as part of the Joe Gibbs Racing Driver Development Program with a solid...
Gresham Notches Another Top-10 Finish
In Gibbs Driver Development Ride At New HampshireJ
LOUDON, NH (September 20, 2009) -- Max Gresham closed out a successful four-race run as part of the Joe Gibbs Racing Driver Development Program with a solid ninth-place finish in the Heluva Good! Fall 125 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Friday.
The Top-10 effort -- Gresham's third in the four events this season -- left the 11th-grade student at Woodward Academy in College Park, GA looking for more.
"I wish we had done a little better tonight," said Gresham. "I can't fault these Joe Gibbs Racing guys. They gave me an awesome car. We just didn't get to make our last pit stop. I would have really liked to have a set of fresh tires for the end of the race. I really think we would have had something for them and a shot of winning the race if we had been able to make that last stop."
Gresham quickly adapted to the flat, one-mile New Hampshire oval posting the eighth best time in practice. The 16-year-old driver then upped the ante in qualifying pushing his Gresham Motorsports Park/World Crown 300 sponsored Toyota Camry to a lap of 30.052 seconds (126.740 average miles per hour) -- good enough for second and an outside pole starting position for Friday's race.
"To qualify on the outside pole at a place like New Hampshire was huge for me," said Gresham. "I'm not always the best of qualifiers, but to put the car on the front row was very special. To do that here, in front of all these other NASCAR teams and drivers -- especially those guys over in the Sprint Cup garage -- made me extremely happy."
A brief rain shower just after the driver's strapped in forced NASCAR to shorten the 125-lap event to 100 circuits. The delay did little to slow Gresham as he quickly settled in to the third position at the drop of the green flag.
A pit stop for fuel during the first caution of the event on Lap 15 put Gresham back in the ninth position on the restart. It took the young driver just 20 laps to move back into the Top-5 where he ran as high as third before an incident on one of four late-race restarts dropped Gresham to ninth in the final running order.
"I came off Turn 2 on one of those late restarts and we got a right-front tire rub," said Gresham. "It was pretty crazy out there and I must have gotten into someone. I could hardly feel it, but at a track this size, that can make a big difference. I hate it that we fell back a couple of positions at the end, but we came out of it okay. It's over and done with now, so there's not much we can do about it. It was still a solid Top-10 finish, but we were way better than that."
In his four races as part of the Joe Gibbs Driver Development Program this season, Gresham averaged a seventh-place finish with the highlights coming at Iowa Speedway (third) and South Boston Speedway (fifth). J "Coming into this deal, my expectations were to try and score Top-10 finishes," Gresham stated. "Once I got on the track, that all changed because of the quality of this Joe Gibbs Racing team and car. I knew right away I had a great opportunity to run up front and contend for wins. It was an awesome experience for me and one that I know is going to benefit me throughout my racing career.
"I can't believe I have run as well as I have in the few races we competed in," Gresham continued. "I can't wait to get another shot in this car. Hopefully, I will get to do that again next season. With these guys backing me, I know I can compete, run with the leaders and win races. My confidence level is through the roof right now. I just can't thank Joe Gibbs Racing enough for the opportunity and the experience I had this season."