Max Gresham won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Friday and might have wrapped up the East Series championship.
NASCAR K&N Pro Series East racer Max Gresham celebrates.
Max Gresham took the lead in the New Hampshire 125 on lap 113.
The win, combined with the finishes of championship contenders Darrell Wallace Jr. and Matt DiBenedetto, gave Gresham a comfortable lead in the East Series standings with four races to go.
But it wasn't exactly smooth sailing for Gresham. While leading the race, he missed pit road and had to circle the track as the rest of the race leaders came in for fuel and tires. When Gresham finally made his pit stop and returned to the race, he was 21st.
"When we missed it, it was just a little thing that we thought was going to end up hurting us in the long run," Gresham said. "We had to go back to the back of the pack after that because we were the last one to come on pit road. We fought our way back from the back, didn't really get into anything, and just kept our nose clean, kept the tires underneath it. We drove our race and just drove back to the front in a slow and constant pace."
Max Gresham wins NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Gresham worked his way through the field and took the lead in the New Hampshire 125 on lap 113. Once he was out in front, he pulled away from the rest of the field and won his second race of the season.
"Once we got up there, we just kept where we were running, got by Brett (Moffitt) there with about 15 to go and just ran away from him," Gresham said. "It's been a cool weekend for us. Everyone's been putting in a lot of hours at the shop. To finally get this second victory this year is very cool for us and everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing."
DiBenedetto came into the race second in the K&N Pro Series East standings. He finished 27th in the race at New Hampshire. Wallace was third in the East Series standings but finished 30th.
"I know both of them were very close to me in the points," Gresham said. "I hate to say they had problems, but it's good for us. It gives us a bigger points lead. With four races left to go this year, it gives us a little bit of a cushion to ride on the rest of the season."
Brett Moffitt moved into second place in the K&N Pro Series East Series standings with a runner-up finish in the race at New Hampshire. He is 94 points behind Gresham.
"Normally you'd be really happy with a second-place finish, but when the points leader wins, it kind of makes it not as fun," Moffitt said. "We're going to keep going and see what we can do to try and win this championship. We just gotta keep digging."
DiBenedetto fell to third place in the East Series standings, 125 points behind Gresham. Wallace is fourth in the East Series standings and 139 points out of first.
Gresham won the pole, but Wallace, who started on the front row, led the first eight laps of the race. Gresham passed Wallace for the lead in the race on lap 9. Gresham was out front until lap 48, when the race leaders started cycling through the pits. Gresham missed the pit entrance and had to stay out for an extra lap.
When he pitted, Ryan Gifford took over the lead and held it for three laps. Sergio Pena passed Gifford for the lead on lap 53 and was out front until lap 75.
Cory LaJoie passed Pena and took over the lead for seven laps, but lost it to Moffitt after a restart.
"Dirty air was a pretty big issue," said LaJoie, who finished third in the race. "I think we were about the same speed when he was behind me and I was probably the same speed when I was behind him. It was just a matter of me missing that shift on that last restart. I kinda put us behind the 8-ball. Luckily we didn't get wrecked or wadded up or turned around. Something like that usually happens, but I got lucky. I was little frustrated myself with that. We ended up third. I messed up on that restart and that's part of it."
Meanwhile, Gresham steadily worked his way through the field. He finally caught the leaders with less than 20 laps to go in the race. He passed Moffitt on lap 112 and held on for the remaining 12 laps of the race.
"Most people want to go back to the front as fast as they could," Gresham said. "We just slowed down, ran our pace and try to get it one car a lap. We knew if we could do that and keep the tires as best as we could, keep the fenders as clean as possible, we'd have something for them at the end. We were able to do that. It definitely paid off in the long run. We were there at the end and we were just as fast as we needed to be at the end."
It was the fourth career K&N Pro Series East win for Gresham and his first since June 11 at Gresham Motorsports Park.
The New Hampshire 125 will be broadcast on Speed on Aug. 4 at 6 p.m. ET.
The next K&N Pro Series East race is the inaugural Jegs 150 at Columbus Motor Speedway in Ohio on July 23.
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