Max Gresham left the Homestead-Miami Speedway with a smile Friday night.
That wouldn't normally be what one would expect after his race. He wasn't happy that his No. 8 Made In USA Brand (MIUSA) Chevrolet Silverado was damaged after hitting the wall three times during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) season-finale Ford EcoBoost 200.
He wasn't happy about finishing 23rd, three laps behind winning Eddie Sharp Racing (ESR) teammate Cale Gale.
For Gresham, however, there was a big reason to close the season with a smile: he was happy about the strides his team made in their abbreviated five-race schedule with Eddie Sharp Racing this year.
"It's amazing how far we came in five races," the 19-year-old driver from Griffin, Ga., said. "We came into Homestead with 11th- and 12th-place finishes and we had one of our best trucks of the year. I was really happy with how much ahead of the curve we were when we unloaded as well as in practice.
"This is a case where you can't judge our team's performance solely on the finish. We enter the off-season with a lot of momentum. Everyone had a difficult time finding grip at Homestead, just like I did. I got into the wall a little bit and that only made things worse."
Gale's victory gave Gresham another reason to smile. As teammates at Eddie Sharp Racing, the entire team had cause to celebrate.
"Cale drove an incredible race," Gresham said. "The way he battled to beat Kyle Busch on the last lap was a powerful highlight for the entire season. If you can't win, you want the winner to be one of your teammates."
Gresham started 13th and maintained his position in the top 15 for most of the race until he bounced off the Turn 3 wall on Lap 102.
"We did a little more damage than we originally thought," Gresham said. "We tried to fight through it."
Gresham currently is working on his plans for the 2013 season, where he will take a lot of confidence and energy into the next campaign.
"I can't wait to see what's ahead," Gresham said. "Our five-race schedule with Eddie Sharp Racing was a success. I got a better feel for these trucks and we improved as a group every time we went to the race track."
In the end, it was that progress that gave Max Gresham plenty of reason to smile.
Max Gresham PR