Everything went as planned for Max Gresham's No. 8 AmWins Chevrolet in the first 99 laps of last Friday night's NextEra Energy Resources 250.
However, the season-opening race for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) is 100 laps.
Gresham was able to recover from an earlier accident in the race and be as high as eighth place with 15 laps to go at the Daytona International Speedway, but he couldn't escape the carnage of a final lap melee that sent his Eddie Sharp Racing (ESR) team to a 24th-place finish - and Gresham to the infield care center.
"Those were some hard licks, especially the last one," Gresham said. "It's really a shame. We had a great Eddie Sharp Racing truck. We were solid in qualifying, and we got up in the top 10 a couple times but we wound up being the victim of someone else's mistake.
"We can take a lot of positives out of our effort, but the truth of it all is that all we really have is a crashed Chevrolet Silverado and a 24th-place finish."
Crew chief Chris Showalter had devised a plan that would keep the 19-year-old driver from Milner, Ga., in contention for the first 90 laps so he could make a charge in the final 10.
The No. 8 AmWins truck ran comfortably in the outside lane until a 13-truck accident on Lap 55. Gresham brushed the third-turn wall trying to escape the crash, but he was able to stay on the lead lap.
"I think this says a lot about the trucks Chris and everyone else at ESR builds," Gresham said. "We put a few dents in the AmWins Chevy, but we were able to get right back into contention."
The lead pack stacked up three-wide and six-deep coming to the white flag. Gresham was running 16th when four cars tangled ahead of Gresham coming through to the tri-oval. This time, he couldn't escape.
"There was a lot things going on coming to the checkers," Gresham said. "I wish we could have made it one more lap so we could have finished on the lead lap. We had a great plan and a great truck."
Gresham and Eddie Sharp Racing will return to action on April 6 for the Kroger 250 at the Martinsville Speedway.
"We have more than a month to get ready," Showalter said. "If we keep doing what we're doing, we'll be fine."
Max Gresham PR