When dark clouds ominously obscured the sky at the Kentucky Speedway on Wednesday afternoon as the Eddie Sharp Racing (ESR) team unloaded the No. 8 Made in USA Brand (MIUSA) Chevrolet, Max Gresham realized he was probably in for a long day on Thursday. The heavy thunderstorms that followed became a fitting backdrop for Gresham when a racing incident took the No. 8 Made in USA Brand Chevrolet Silverado to the garage.
His 31st-place finish in Thursday's UNOH 225 was an unfortunate chapter in a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) season that thus far has failed to yield anything close to what the Milner, Georgia, native expected.
After finding success and a growing confidence at other 1.5-mile speedways this year, which including a third-place finish at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, Gresham got loose sliding up the track in the 40th lap of the race and crashed into the second turn wall.
His mood could have been sour. He could have fumed and no one would have blamed him, but Gresham showed none of those things, and instead he was steady in this difficult occasion.
"It just got away from me," he said. "We've been so good on the intermediate tracks this year it was easy to feel confident."
Gresham qualified his red, white, and blue machine 20th for the eighth race of the season.
By Lap 20, Gresham had gained three positions and then radioed that the Chevrolet was tight in the center of the corner. As yellow flag pit stops began, crew chief Chris Showalter called the No. 8 Made in USA Brand Chevrolet down pit road for a four-tire pit stop, fuel and tire air pressure adjustment.
His Made in USA Brand team had found a setup that worked, and Gresham rallied all the way to 13th place until the truck slid up the race track and hit the wall. Gresham suffered enough damage that the No. 8 needed to be towed off the track. Only once the No.8 Made in USA Brand Chevrolet was in the garage did Showalter make the assessment that the Eddie Sharp Racing machine was unable to continue.
"Just when things were falling into place, the truck jumped out from Max," Showalter said. "We did everything we could to get back out there, but there was too much damage.
"Everyone on our No.8 team was really disappointed including Max. We were moving up and gaining ground. The next thing we knew, the truck was in the garage and we were done. There's a fine line between success and failure in racing. Go or go home, and line between is really small and not always easy to see."
The best thing for Gresham's chance at redemption is close, with the American Ethanol 200 at the Iowa Speedway on July 13.
"You never want to crash," Gresham said. "And you certainly don't want to crash when the truck just gets away from you. I was certainly disappointed. I hate it because everyone at Eddie Sharp Racing worked really hard to building a great truck, and I wanted to give the Made in USA Brand a better showing than that. But it's part of the learning process. It's racing."
"This one will sting for a day or two, and then we'll get focused on Iowa and we'll be ready to move on."
While there was a black cloud hanging Gresham in the Bluegrass State, he will travel to the Hawkeye State in attempt to find calm and success in the sunlight.
Max Gresham PR