Griffin, Ga. native Max Gresham got an early birthday present Saturday afternoon. The Joe Gibbs Racing development driver, who will turn 17 on April 30th, scored his first career NASCAR K&N Pro Series victory after starting from the pole. Gresham led all but four laps of the 150-lap event at South Boston Speedway (VA).
“It's been a great day here at South Boston,” said Gresham. “The whole team today was just excellent and we just had a fast car.”
Gresham soared to the front at the drop of the checkers and only lost the lead twice. First on a lap 30 restart to Brett Moffitt, who led for two laps before Gresham put his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota back out front. He lost it again, this time to Cole Whitt on lap 135, but was back out front at lap 137.
“Those last 20 laps were a lot of fun,” admitted Gresham. “(Whitt) was the second car that tried to take the lead away from me today. People were racing me clean and I have to thank them for that. The double-file restarts were a great experience for us.”
Moffitt, one of Gresham's toughest competitors, was spun on lap 95 by Whitt coming around turn four.
“I'm new to these cars, and I know this sounds stupid, but I just don't really know where the front bumper is. I've never hit anybody before. It was my fault and I have to apologize. I know that's not going to fix it and I probably have a return coming but it was short track racing and I was just trying to be as close as I can,” said Whitt.
Gresham posted a top-five in his debut at South Boston Speedway just one year ago. This was his fifth start in the series.
Whitt takes over the point lead with his runner-up finish.
“There were probably four of us that could have won the race,” said Whitt. “Everyone was just giving it everything they could. I was trying to work the outside. I got it to work for a little bit and it just kind of wore the stuff out because you had to roll in so hard. It's short track racing and it was fun.”
Ryan Truex finished third.
“I had a good car - not good enough to win,” said Truex. “It was just tough short track racing. We were beating and banging and trying everything we could just to get to the front. I was kind of banking that the 84 (Whitt) and the 18 (Gresham) would get into a little trouble there racing side by side and I would be able to sneak under them but they did a great job. Everybody raced me clean. It was a fun race.”
The event took a mere 55 minutes to complete with only five caution periods.
The worst wreck of the day occurred on lap 119 when Revolution Racing's Mackena Bell along with Dustin Delaney and Joey Polewarczyk tangled on the frontstretch. All three cars in the wreck retired from the event with extensive damage.
The K&N Pro Series East returns to action on May 23 at Iowa Speedway.