DENVER (SHARP-GALLAHER RACING RELEASE) - After falling a lap down to the leader in Saturday's Kroger 200, Max Gresham fought his way back to the lead lap and an 11th-place finish at the Martinsville Speedway, marking his third consecutive top-11 finish in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competition.
"Well, I matched my best finish here [at Martinsville Speedway]," Gresham said. "I impressed myself."
The first time he was at the iconic half-mile track in early April, the Sharp-Gallaher Racing driver started in the 18th position and finished 30th. His previous career-best finish was 11th in October 2012.
Saturday's race at Martinsville Speedway - NASCAR's shortest oval - was a typical short-track spectacle, with lots of rubbing and bumping that led to even more griping and temper tantrums. Gresham's No. 8 AmWINS Group, Inc. Chevrolet left the paper clip-shaped track largely clean, excepting a doughnut on the passenger-side door and damage to the rear bumper.
"A day of survival is one way to put it," the Milner, Ga., native said. "I need to thank Chris (Showalter) and Lorin (Ranier) for keeping me calm."
Martinsville's combination of asphalt straightaways hooked with a pair of concrete-surfaced U-turn corners is a different animal than any other track on the circuit. The Sharp-Gallaher Racing driver has struggled at Martinsville in the past, but after qualifying 26th there last Friday where he turned in a lap of 20.025 seconds (94.562 mph), Gresham knew he was facing his biggest test yet at this 0.526-mile track.
Gresham was running 27th and fighting a loose-handling truck when the second caution flag of the day waved. Crew chief Chris Showalter called Gresham into pit road for four tires, fuel, and a track bar adjustment on Lap 70.
Pushing hard in 23rd-position on Lap 120 to get the "Lucky Dog" award, Gresham was working the top groove and got his break several laps later on Lap 145 when the caution was again displayed, allowing the No. 8 AmWINS Group, Inc. team to return to the lead lap.
Gresham took advantage of the Lap-129 caution, and brought his No. 8 Chevrolet Silverado to the hands of his crew from the 25th position for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment to help with the handling.
Gresham was then able to methodically improve his way through the field, and broke into the top-20 for the first time with 50 laps remaining in the 200-lap race at Martinsville.
The final caution flag of the race waved on Lap 189, and Gresham was able to restart 16th, and gain several positions in the closing laps to finish in the 11th position.
"I just kept fighting and made the moves when they counted," Gresham said.
Gresham and his Sharp-Gallaher Racing team return to action Friday night, Nov. 1 as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway for the WinStar World Casino 350.