At 20-years old, Max Gresham is a year from being able to play at any of the big casinos in Las Vegas, but that didn't keep him from cashing in Saturday night.
Gresham started ninth in the Smith's 350 and he finished 10th for this third top-10 finish this season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for Sharp-Gallaher Racing.
During the early stages of the race, Gresham's No. 8 Wally Dallenbach Jr. Foundation (WDJF) Chevrolet varied from tight on entry to sliding loose as he maintained his position inside the top 10.
Adjustments were made constantly as the race evolved. Crew chief Chris Showalter relied on feedback from Gresham to determine which or how many adjustments needed to be made. Showalter addressed Gresham's comments with several chassis adjustments during the first 93 laps.
"If the truck is too far off the pace at the start, you definitely want to knock out those big adjustments early," Gresham said. "We took a swing at them, even if it cost us a few spots on the track."
All those adjustments were made within a few short seconds. However, there are times when giving up a few spots on pit road early in the race will pay dividends late in the race. A call for four fresh Goodyear tires and fuel during a pit stop under caution on Lap 15 cost Gresham track positions, but the team was gambling in anticipation of long green-flag runs. He restarted 17th for the 146-lap event. Back on track, Gresham made significant gains, climbing to eighth by the time the third yellow flag of the night was waved 30 laps later giving him the opportunity to make his second pit stop.
Gresham appeared committed to the outside lane at Las Vegas's 1.5-mile quad-oval and he continued to work with Showalter on the handling of the truck. On Lap 75 the No. 8 team opted for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment during a stop under caution. Gresham remained inside the top 15.
The Milner, Ga., native was 17th by the time the caution flag was waved on Lap 110, when he reported that his Wally Dallenbach Jr. Foundation Chevrolet was the best it had been all night. He climbed to 10th with 37 laps to go. Following the lap-145 restart, Gresham was caught up in traffic and unable to make up additional ground and finished 10th, his third top 10 of the year.
"The key to the finish was getting the truck handling right," Gresham said. "It was perfect in those closing laps. I think we would have had a top-five finish if not for the restart traffic."
Max Gresham PR