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SCHOOLING: Max Gresham Uses History Lesson To Get First New Hampshire Motor Speedway Win

Friday, July 15, 2011
Photo: Getty Images/NASCAR

LOUDON, N.H. – On Thursday afternoon after winning the pole for the New England 125, Max Gresham was more focused on the bad things that had plagued him in recent years than he was on the possibility of what lie ahead.

By Friday evening, though, the Griffin, Ga., driver was celebrating.

Recovering from an early pit stop miscue, Gresham led the final 13 laps to win his first career NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Gresham's second win of the season extended his series points lead with just four races remaining.

"To come here and not have finished better than ninth (before) and finally win here on my fourth try is awesome," said Gresham, who led the most laps and also snapped a three-race New Hampshire win streak for Michael Waltrip Racing. "And to end the (MWR No. 00's) win streak here is also another cool thing.

"Hopefully, when we come back here in the fall, the car will be just as good and we can win another race."

It wasn't quite as easy as the numbers made it appear.

 

Gresham watched as Darrell Wallace Jr. led the first few circuits, before the Joe Gibbs Racing development driver assumed the lead from Laps 9 through 48. He was caught off-guard, though, when every lead-lap car headed to pit road while he stayed on track.

He would pit the next time by, but Gresham had lost valuable track position.

"My crew chief and I were actually talking on the radio and never gave my spotter and chance to tell us that pit road was open," Gresham said. "So when we missed it, it was a little thing that we thought was going to end up hurting us in the long run.

"We were the last ones to come on pit road, but we fought our way back from the back."

In his previous four races at New Hampshire, Gresham had fast cars but was bit by mechanical failures or other bad luck. He feared it was going to be more of the same.

But on Thursday, he'd vowed to learn from past experiences at the track – and on Friday he made good on that promise to himself.

By Lap 100, Gresham was third. He made quick work of both Brett Moffitt and Corey LaJoie – taking the lead on Lap 113 and never looking back as he won by a 1.2-second margin.

"Most people just want to go back to the front as fast as you could," Gresham said. "We just slowed down, ran our pace and just tried to (pass) one car a lap. We knew if we could do that and keep the tires as best we could – keep the fenders as clean as possible – we'd have something for them.

"We did that, and it paid off."

Rookie Brandon Gdovic finished fourth for his best career finish.

Three-time New Hampshire winner Eddie MacDonald survived a wild day – starting at the rear of the field after blowing an engine in practice Thursday, battling for the lead prior to the halfway mark, being given a pass-through penalty for an infraction, getting a lap back under green – to salvage a ninth-place finish.

– TB