Gresham Wraps Up Dream Season

Max Gresham

Gresham accepts the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship trophy from NASCAR President Mike Helton. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Max Gresham wrapped up his dream season Friday with his first championship in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East with a third-place finish in the Dover 150 at Dover International Speedway.

"It means everything in the world right now," said Gresham. "To be a NASCAR champion is pretty much the only thing I wanted to do when I started racing and now I am. Hopefully there's more to come in the future. This one's as sweet as can be right now."

While the 18-year-old Gresham was securing the title, Darrell Wallace Jr., 17, scored his third win of the season and fifth of his career with a victory on the high-banked, one-mile concrete oval. This one, though, carried extra personal significance.

"It was an emotional win," said Wallace, "losing my uncle this past saturday, so it was tough.
"I put his name over my name on the door and he was riding shotgun with us and put us in Victory Lane. I love him, miss him already."

It marked Wallace's first win at the Monster Mile and coupled with a 21st-place finish for the other title contender Brett Moffitt, moved him into second in the final standings. Wallace won the race's pole award in Thursday's qualifying. Veteran Dale Quarterley finished second.

Gresham, from Griffin, Ga., was in his second season driving the No. 18 Live Oak Plantation Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. He took the championship by 63 points over Wallace and 83 over Moffitt. It marks the second series title for JGR, following Joey Logano's in 2007.

Moffitt cut a tire and hit the wall while leading with four laps remaining in a quest for his third straight win at Dover. At the time, Gresham was running third and nursing a six-point lead over Moffitt in the championship standings. Moffitt's accident prompted a green-white-checkered finish that stretched the race to 152 laps.
Gresham reported in the closing laps that he had felt a tire vibration. But with Moffitt out, he was able to cruise to the finish. He gave the second spot to Quarterley without a fight on the overtime finish and sailed safely to the championship.

"It's been something coming all year," said Bryant Frazier, Gresham's crew chief. "Max has done exactly what we set out to do this year -- be patient at times, drive hard when he needed to and win races. Every person on the team has worked hard all year long as a group."

In addition to two wins, nine top fives and 11 top 10s in 12 starts, Gresham completed every lap run this season. He recorded victories at his home track of Gresham Motorsports Park in Jefferson, Ga., and in the spring at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

"This has been the best season I've ever had," Gresham said. "It will be a good one for the record books for a long time for myself. We started off the season not as strong as we wanted but we had a run of 10 top fives. And you can't ask for anything better than that. ... I can't be any happier than to be part of such a great organization and it's just been a great year for us."

Said Steve DeSouza, Joe Gibbs Racing vice president of Nationwide Series and developmental series: "They worked very, very hard this year and we're really proud of them. Watching Max since he's been with us, he's always been very fast but he's been a little hesitant on the patience side of it. As he's matured, he hasn't lost his speed but he's learned to race well.

"I'd venture to say you'll be seeing him in the Nationwide Series and more than likely Cup here in the future. He's done a great job. He's a quick student."

Gresham will run three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races this season for Turn One Racing. He will attempt to make his debut at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday, October 15.

Wallace finished with three wins and, combined with teammate Sergio Peña, gave Revolution Racing and the Drive for Diversity initiative six wins. Matt DiBenedetto and Peña finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the final points standings.

Eddie MacDonald and rookie Andrew Smith rounded out the top five Friday. Smith earned the Sunoco Rookie of the Race Award and Featherlite Most Improved Driver Award. Benny Gordon started 30th and finished sixth to collect the Coca-Cola Move of the Race Award. He was followed by Ryan Gifford, Brandon McReynolds, Dylan Presnell and Jeff Anton.

Alex Bowman finished 23rd but was able to unofficially clinch the Sunoco Rookie of the Year over Corey LaJoie and Chase Elliott.

The Dover 150 will air on SPEED on Thursday, Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. ET.

Gresham will be honored for his NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship at the NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Series Gala on Saturday, Dec. 10 in the Crown Ballroom of the Charlotte (N.C.) Convention Center in the NASCAR Hall of Fame complex.

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