DENVER, NC - Max Gresham did not look at the giant scoring pylon when he climbed out from his No. 8 Made in USA Brand (MIUSA) Chevrolet Wednesday night at the Bristol Motor Speedway.
He did not need to know where he finished in the UNOH 200 to leave the World's Fastest Half Mile with a sense of satisfaction, and everyone at Sharp-Gallaher Racing agreed with him.
"That was a great first race," Gresham said. "It being the first time I've ever raced here (Bristol Motor Speedway), I believe this race was a success. It was a solid, solid day for our No.8 Sharp-Gallaher Racing team. It might not be the finish we wanted, but it was a good first experience."
Officially, the 20-year-old driver was credited with a 15th-place finish.
"Well, we made progress," team co-owner Eddie Sharp Jr. said as he greeted Gresham. "They improved from one practice session to another, and they made more progress in qualifying. That team stepped it up again in the race."
While Gresham had been to the iconic short track several times before Wednesday night's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) race, he did so as a race fan. The 200-lap event marked the first time he made a start on the 28-degree high-banked racetrack.
Gresham started 12th and stayed close to the top 10 most of the race. His team took a conservative approach to the race, making two four-tire pit stops.
"It was a learning experience for everyone," crew chief Chris Showalter said. "The good thing is Max finished the race and we took home our No. 8 Made In USA Brand truck in one piece. We wish the finishing position was a bit better but it was a solid effort all the way around by everyone at Sharp-Gallaher Racing."
Gresham was 28th quickest in the first practice session early Wednesday as he got used to the track. He was 26th quickest in the final practice session, but he improved to place 12th in qualifying.
"We had a plan to get me comfortable with the track," Gresham said. "Then we focused on finding a little more speed. Our plan worked perfectly. We got better with every session.
"And I know we got better in the race. We should be satisfied with a 15th-place finish, especially since this was my first race at Bristol. We're looking at the big picture, and we made a lot of progress from the moment we unloaded to the time we ran the last lap."
Gresham remains 16th in the Camping World Truck Series driver standings.
The Sharp-Gallaher Racing Made in USA Brand team will return to action with the Chevrolet Silverado 250 at the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park road course at Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada, on September 1.
It will mark Gresham's first NASCAR road course race.