As the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) descended upon Texas Motor Speedway for the 16th Annual WinStar World Casino 400, Max Gresham and the No. 24 Made In USA Brand team was looking for redemption following last weekend's heartbreak at Dover.
Although rain washed away qualifying for the seventh event on the 2012 NCWTS schedule and the starting line-up was set by owners points for Friday night's main event, the rookie driver was able to get some laps in during a rain-delayed practice session Thursday night.
Gresham, making his NCWTS debut in the Lone Star State, posted the 17th-fastest time before losing control of his No. 24 machine and tagging the safer barrier on the exit of turn-four. Unfortunately, Gresham would be forced to a back-up truck for the 167-lap event on Friday evening.
Starting shot gun, Gresham began making his ascent through the 35-truck field and quickly picked up 13 positions before making his way to pit road under caution for fuel and a trackbar adjustment to help tighten up his Made In USA Brand Chevrolet. Gresham would restart 22nd when the field went back to green at lap seven.
Gresham ran solidly in the top-25 for the next 26 circuits but lost ground to the leader as he fought a loose handling Chevrolet Silverado. When the second caution flag was displayed for fluid on the track, Gresham was awarded the "Lucky Dog" award while his crew made major changes to his Made In USA Brand Chevrolet on pit road.
Restarting 19th at lap 37, Gresham ran inside the top-20 for the next 37 circuits. Although the rookie struggled with a tight condition early in a run and a loose condition later in a run he was gaining confidence and making his way through the field. However, at lap 74 the No. 5 machine, which was running on the low side, moved up the track and made contact with the Made In USA Brand Chevrolet. Gresham kept it off the wall, but had tires down and extensive damage to the left side door.
Multiple trips down pit road to repair damage on the red, white and blue machine left Gresham mired laps down to the leader. However, with nothing to gain and nothing to lose, Gresham raced his own race, stayed smart, stayed smooth and gained experience at the 1.5-mile quad-oval. Gresham would ultimately finish 21st, three laps down to race winner, Johnny Sauter.
This was Gresham's best finish in his last four starts.
Max Gresham Quotes:
"We had no idea what to expect coming into tonight. This was a back-up truck that we have never run, we didn't get any practice with it yesterday and my first laps in it were during the race tonight. We struggled with handling all night and never really got it right. I'm not too sure what happened with the 5 truck, but I'm just really proud of my guys. They worked really hard to get this truck turned around for tonight and although the results don't show it, it was a solid effort on track. We finished the race and I was able to gain a lot of experience here tonight. We are making progress and moving forward and it won't be long before you can see the results of our hard work."