Max Gresham got to Daytona Beach on Tuesday, February 12 - 12 full days before the NextEra Energy Resources 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) event at Daytona International Speedway.
The driver of the No. 8 AmWINS Chevrolet Silverado was so eager to start the 2013 racing season that he arrived at the world's most famous beach early to do some dirt racing and get geared up for the season-opener.
"For a racer, there's no place more special than Daytona," Gresham said. "I plan to soak up the atmosphere there for as long as I can. I love racing over at Volusia Speedway Park, and I love being at Daytona."
Gresham, who plans to run the entire truck series season, is not only looking for his first top-10 finish in his young Truck Series career, but he also hopes to make Eddie Sharp Racing (ESR) a winner for the first time at the World Center of Racing.
The team also will be carrying the blue and silver colors of AmWINS, a leading specialty insurance broker that's one of the fastest-growing companies in North Carolina, and especially in the Charlotte region.
"When you start a new season, you bring over your best truck and everyone is energized," the 19-year-old driver from Milner, Ga., said. "The same goes for our sponsor AmWINS. We've spent nearly three months getting ready for our biggest race, so we're ready to get things rolling."
The 2.5-mile speedway will open for practice on Thursday, with pole qualifying at 1:40 p.m. ET on Friday. The 100-lap race is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. green flag on SPEED.
While Gresham said the team's primary goal is to establish and build momentum for the rest of the season, he knows survival is ultimately "a crap shoot" when the trucks run two- and three-wide on the 31-degree banking. A year ago, John King rebounded from two earlier accidents to win the race.
Gresham's first Daytona start ended with a 26th-place finish a year ago. In addition to his one NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start at Daytona, has had ARCA Racing Series success at Daytona with a sixth place finish in 2012. This event will mark his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career-second start at a super speedway.
"The key is to keep the truck under you, stay out of trouble and make a run in the last couple laps," Gresham said. "If you're not in the middle of something, you've got a good chance for a win."
Gresham also came to Daytona Beach early because he loves the racing atmosphere that surrounds the iconic raceway.
"I really enjoy the fan interaction when you're at the racetrack," he said. "People come from all over the world to see racing there. It's become a classic racing tradition. I can still remember taking my father there in 2008 for the 50th Anniversary Race and sitting in the stands. It was five years ago, and is still a special moment for both of us."
Gresham also loves the largemouth bass in Lake Lloyd along the backstretch. Part of last year's race preparation also included an afternoon of fishing where he caught a big bass.
"That fish gets bigger every time I tell the story," Gresham said with a laugh. "Hopefully we'll make some new memories with our AmWINS truck this weekend. It's been a lot of fun to be around Daytona Beach for nearly two weeks. Now it's time to get busy and have some real fun."