Happy Returns For Gresham Rookie makes it a winning trip back to South Boston SOUTH BOSTON, Va. -- Max Gresham returned to the track where he made his NASCAR K&N Pro Series East debut a year ago and drove to Victory Lane Saturday at South...
Happy Returns For Gresham
Rookie makes it a winning trip back to South Boston
SOUTH BOSTON, Va. -- Max Gresham returned to the track where he made his NASCAR K&N Pro Series East debut a year ago and drove to Victory Lane Saturday at South Boston Speedway.
Gresham finished fifth in the 2009 event. He only made three starts last season to maintain his Sunoco Rookie of the Year eligibility for 2010.
"It's been a great day here," Gresham said. "I've got to thank Joe Gibbs and Toyota for putting such a great car together, and my crew chief Mike Sibley. The whole team was just excellent.
"We definitely put a great car out there and we were fast the whole race."
With this win, Gresham secured a starting spot in the postseason NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown.
Gresham collected his first 21 Means 21 presented by Coors Light Pole Award Saturday afternoon and led all but four of the 150 laps. However, he had his hands full holding off a furious late-race charge from fellow rookie Cole Whitt, which featured the two racing side-by-side in the closing stages. Gresham was finally able to break clear over the last 10 laps and secure to the win.
Ryan Truex finished third, followed by Gifford and Matt Kobyluck.
For Truex, who won the pole in last year's race, it was a considerable rally after severely damaging his car in the season-opener at Greenville (S.C.) Pickens Speedway a week earlier.
"It was just tough racing - short-track racing, beating and banging and doing everything you can to get to the front," said Truex, who was running a new car after damage to the one at Greenville. "I was kind of banking on maybe the 84 (Whitt) and the 18 (Gresham) would get in a little trouble there racing side-by-side, maybe I'd be able to slip under them. But they did a great job. It was a fun race."
Whitt made one final bid with 15 to go when he pulled even on the outside lane and briefly led at the line for two laps. Gresham wrestled the lead back and Whitt briefly tried a cross-over move on the backstretch and got his nose inside before sliding back into second.
"The last 20 laps was a lot of fun," Gresham said. "I've got to thank Cole Whitt for racing me clean."
"I got to the outside of him -- I think twice; I think we would have had him the first time if the yellow didn't come out," Whitt said. "That made it a little bit toughter. And then I had to fight Ryan (Truex) off. That was a good battle. I got back to the outside of (Gresham) one last time at the end and he was pushing us up. It's short track racing. He was doing his job, just like I was doing mine. I have to congratulate him."
Whitt settled for second and took over the points lead two races into the season. He leads Gifford by 25 points (345-320). Just 16 points seperate third from seventh: Jody Lavender is third at 300, followed by Truex (296), D.J. Shaw (293), Darrell Wallace Jr. (288) and Gresham (284).
"We were here to get a good run and come out with the points lead," Whitt said. "That what we came in here to do."
Brett Moffitt, the defending race winner, recovered from a spin on Lap 95 while battling Whitt for second to finish sixth.
Eddie MacDonald, Drew Brannon, D.J. Shaw and Ty Dillon rounded out the top 10. Shaw also rallied from an early spin.
In addition to the win, Greshman cleaned up on the contingency awards. He was the Sunoco Rookie of the Race, and earned the WIX Filters Lap Leader Award as well as the Featherlite Most Improved Driver Award (he improved 22 spots from his Greenville finish).
Brannon moved up nine spots from his starting position to earn the Coca-Cola Move of the Race Award.
The race will air on SPEED on Thursday, April 15 at 6 p.m. ET.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East next races on May 23 in the annual combination event with the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa.