It was difficult for Max Gresham and everyone else on the Sharp-Gallaher Racing team to leave the Phoenix International Raceway Friday night without a look back over their entire body of work in the 2013 season.
A 15th-place finish in the Lucas Oil 150 fell short of what the team wanted, but it also said a lot of what they accomplished in the No. 8 Scottsdale Insurance Company Chevrolet throughout the two-day event.
"It's amazing how far we've come from unloading the No. 8 Chevrolet until now," crew chief Chris Showalter said.
While Gresham completed his seventh lead-lap finish in a row, he wasn't happy about being part of an early-race accident that included another Georgia native. Although both recovered to post lead-lap finishes, Gresham believed the bump he instigated may have cost him a top-five finish.
"We had a top-five truck tonight," the 20-year-old driver from Milner, Ga., said. "I hate that I caused that caution and put us a lap down. I really believe we could have run with the top five."
Throughout the 150-lap event Gresham's lap times were faster than the leaders as he worked his way through the traffic. The proverbial third time was the charm as Gresham battled for the Lucky Dog, and he received it on Lap 87 after his third attempt of the night.
Gresham qualified the Scottsdale Insurance Company Chevrolet in fifth, marking his best career starting position on a track of one-mile or shorter.
"We made incredible improvements between practice and qualifying, and those improvements carried over into the race," Gresham said. "It's a shame we got a lap down early in the race, but we battled back and posted another lead-lap finish.
"I can't say enough about the way Chris [Showalter] and everyone else on this Sharp-Gallaher Racing team set this Scottsdale Insurance Company truck up. We have everything in place to win a race. It's just a matter of putting all the pieces together."
The team's final chance of the 2013 season will come Friday, Nov. 15, with the Ford EcoBoost 200 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Max Gresham PR