For Max Gresham, 20 year old driver of the Eddie Sharp Racing No. 8 AmWINS Chevrolet, his career-best third place finish was inspirational. The young driver also led three laps for the first time in his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career and gave Charlotte-based sponsor AmWINS its first top-three finish right in their own backyard at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“For us, the finish is major league justification that we are going down the right path with our technology and all the things we’ve been doing to get better,” Gresham said. “It’s a huge confidence boost for us because we’ve been struggling with having good runs this year.”
“That’s just the run we needed to start something and we have a bunch of rejuvenated energy now,” Gresham continued. “That finish was inspiring for everyone involved with what I’m doing and where I’m trying to get.”
While Gresham could not pin point exactly what has been the spark to get his season going in the right direction, he did acknowledge that he and his crew chief Chris Showalter had hit on a thing or two that seemed to suit the car and the driver.
“We’ve been adding some new spring and shock combinations and we just found one that I really liked in practice,” Gresham said. “We just kept working on it to make it better and better.”
“It just brought the truck alive,” Gresham continued. “And we just had everything go right for once.”
“We didn’t get caught up in any wrecks and it all went right.”
Gresham shared his tremendous respect for his crew chief and credits his years in the Truck Series as a key factor to their success together.
“Chris Showalter is a genius I think,” Gresham said. “He makes all the right calls and continues to work really hard.”
“He is also the only guy to have been to every single NASCAR Truck race,” Gresham continued. “He has not missed one since its initiation in 1995.”
“I think he’s up to 400 something races now,” Gresham said. “No one has more trips to the Truck races than him.”
“He’s seen it all, he’s done it all and he’s been a part of it all.”
Gresham also contributed his podium finish to his race team, Eddie Sharp Racing, with whom the young racer has had a relationship since his ARCA Series days.
“I knew Eddie from when I was running ARCA races,” Gresham said. “Late last season, we went back to him and everything came together.”
“It’s been an awesome start to the season,” Gresham continued. “We’re going to run the full year and we’re going to make the most of it.”
While his third place run in the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 moved him up to 17th in the point standings, the young driver set his next goal as getting into the top ten in points.
“Our goal is to keep building on that success and keep inching our way forward,” Gresham said. “We want to be in the top ten in points.”
“Of course we want to win, but we want to get consistent finishes first.”
Gresham admitted that he had also had an interesting ride with his sponsor AmWINS, a company that absorbed his grandfather’s insurance agency late last year.
“Steve DeCarlo (CIO of AmWINS) is actually a race fan and I’m glad he decided to go racing with us,” Gresham said. “He was at the race and he said he that he has never had so much fun and that it was one of the coolest things he has ever done.”
“When you can make a man like Mr. DeCarlo say something like that, you are doing something special.”
Gresham has already had a very special racing career and is actually in his 12th full season of racing.
“I started when I was eight in Bandeleros and then went to the Legend car,” Gresham said. “I was running Pro Super Late Models all over the southeast and then in 2010, I moved up to the K&N Series for Joe Gibbs Racing and in 2011, I won the K&N championship for Joe Gibbs.”
“From there, I moved into the Truck Series and now I’m with Eddie Sharp Racing and we’re on the verge of doing some very cool stuff this year.”
Gresham is absolutely enjoying every minute of the Truck Series, from the competition with other young guns to the wise advice and counsel of the veteran drivers.
“The great part about the Truck Series is that everyone is so close and the competition is so tight,” Gresham said. “Even someone like Ron Hornaday or Todd Bodine is willing to tell someone that he’s going to be racing a little secret here and there so that when you’re racing with them, you don’t do something stupid, wreck and take them out.”
“Everyone is willing to help you a little bit to make sure you don’t get them in trouble and that’s how everyone works,” Gresham continued. “I’ve been in other divisions where no one is willing to talk to you because you’re just a rookie and a young kid.”
“But the Truck Series is great, there are a lot of good people and you can constantly learn from everyone.”
While Gresham idolizes many of the Truck Series drivers, he has two racers in particular that have earned his respect as a fan and as an up and coming talent.
“When I was very young, I was a Ricky Rudd fan and watched him until he retired,” Gresham said. “Now, I’ve become a Carl Edwards fan.”
“He’s an awesome guy,” Gresham continued. “He knows how to talk. He knows how to drive. And in my mind, he’s the full package.”
With a top-five finish in his pocket, Gresham cannot wait to get to the next Truck Race at the Monster Mile in Dover, Delaware. In fact, the youngster feels like he is due at the fast mile race track.
“Dover is just fun,” Gresham said. “I’ve run there twice in the K&N Series and it really owes me one.”
“I should have won the race in 2010 when my motor blew up when I was leading,” Gresham continued. “Then in 2011, I had a loose wheel that didn’t allow me to race in the green, white, checkered finish.”
“So I feel like it owes me,” Gresham said. “It’s a fun track and it’s a fast track. It always leaves the Truck Series with a good finish because we really race hard there.”
Gresham is also thrilled with the new sponsor that he is bringing to that race track as well.
“We will have Trimmers Assist on the Truck at Dover,” Gresham said. “It came about a month and a half ago and we had it on the deck lid at Charlotte but it will be a full truck deal at Dover.”
“We’re ready for Dover in two weeks and we’re really looking forward to what is to come in these next few months,” Gresham said. “It’s inspiring.”