As a racer, driver Max Gresham is never satisfied with anything less than a victory. But as his first full-time season comes to an end, he is very aware of the challenges of competing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Together with his No. 8 Made in USA Brand (MIUSA) team, Gresham carved out a 22nd-place finish in Friday night's Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. On the surface, he was not pleased with the finish, but was happy with the effort that led to the eighth consecutive lead-lap finish for the Sharp-Gallaher Racing team.
"If you look at the big picture, this was an incredibly successful year," the 20-year-old driver from Milner, Ga., said. "But as a racer, you only think about your most-recent race. We closed out the year with a lot of good races in a row, but you want to win. We're proud of our effort on this 'Team Ocho' Made in USA Brand Chevrolet. We wish we could have gotten even more, but that's the way all racers think."
Gresham qualified 16th for the season finale at the 1.5-mile oval in South Florida. Practice came during the afternoon hours, and the race started at night.
"That created a big challenge for everyone," crew chief Chris Showalter said. "We were faced with a difficult choice: Do we set your truck up to be fast for the beginning of the race, or do we set it up for the end of the race? It's a gamble, either way."
Gresham's Made in USA Brand Chevrolet was mired in mid-pack traffic throughout the race, and he climbed as high as eleventh on Lap 80.
He avoided the late-race calamity that led to three different attempts at a green-white-checkered finish. The red, white and blue machine received only minor damage as he avoided being collected in the Lap-132 caution.
"Track position was everything," Gresham said. "We just couldn't break out of that pack in the middle. When you're stuck in traffic like that, it becomes a race of survival. We hung on for another lead-lap finish, so that's a positive. I just wish we could have gotten a little closer to the front where we could have been a little more aggressive."
The Sharp-Gallaher Racing team finished its first full-time season with Gresham ranked 16th in the final NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver point standings. Gresham posted a career-best third-place finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and he also had four top-10 finishes.
"It was a good year," Showalter said. "We came a long way from the first race [at Daytona International Speedway in February] to Homestead. I've been around this sport for a long time and I can't tell you how much I appreciated seeing a young team grow up so much during the season."
Max Gresham PR