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Gresham Gets First 604 Late Model Win

Gresham Gets First 604 Late Model Win

MERIDIAN, Miss. (March 4) — When Mario Gresham got his first look at the 2023 schedule on the Newsome/Raceway Parts Network Crate Racin’ USA Dirt Late Model Series, a particular date practically jumped at him from the page: May 6, 2023, at Whynot Motorsports Park.

It’s a place to which Gresham has taken a liking over the past two years or so, and now it’s the spot where the Rome, Ga., driver will long remember posting his first-ever victory in the 604 Late Model division after he took the lead with a daring three-wide move on the opening circuit en route to a $1,500 victory in the 10th edition of the Battle of the States at the quarter-mile oval.

“Tonight is the first big cardboard check we’ve gotten,” Gresham said. “We’ve been working hard on getting one. We came here to this event last year and ran in the 602 Late Model Sportsman division, and finished third. This one tonight is our first big win in the 604 Late Model class, and we came here to practice for the touring series event that they’re having here. We’ll run the Crate Racin’ USA Dirt Late Model Series full time, so this gave us an opportunity to come here and get a few laps before that show.”

Gresham spent all of those available laps at the head of the pack, but it was an eye-catching, three-deep maneuver nearing the end of the first lap that sprung him into the lead. When front-row starters Jason Henry and Casey Haney raced door to door between turns three and four, Gresham dove low and snuck underneath the pair to steal the point with a third-to-first vault to the lead as the opening circuit was completed.

He commanded the rest of the distance and drove away to victory, crossing under the checkered flag 0.123 seconds ahead of Haney, while Colton Leyendecker took fourth in a 21-car field over Henry.

“I needed 90 inches to squeeze my car in there, and they left me about 92 inches,” Gresham said. “It was tight, but we made it through there. We only came here to get ready for the points season on the touring circuit, and it worked out pretty good for us.”

The always-racy oval did little to disappoint Gresham’s high opinion of the Rodney and Cassie Wing-promoted facility. The racing was typically competitive and multi-grooved, including a well-prepped surface that allowed the winning move.

“We’ve been here two days, and we’ve practiced and raced two and three-wide both nights,” Gresham said. “You can usually run all over at this place, and really race. Man, I just love this racetrack.”

Gresham wheeled a Longhorn-chassied entry that was sponsored by Acker’s Wrecker Service, Twisted Performance and Machine, One Source Paint & Body, Gresham Racing Parts and Traction Apparel Co.

Battle of the States: 1. Mario Gresham, 2. Casey Haney, 3. Colton Leyendecker, 4. Chris McElhenney, 5. Jason Henry, 6. Eric Mazingo, 7. Jim McDuffie, 8. Tim Dees, 9. David Williamson, 10. Ryan Colby, 11. Sid Scarbrough, 12. Tyler Owens, 13. Cody Smith, 14. Joey Moxley, 15. Larry Murphy, 16. Te-Wayne May, 17. Seth Luke, 18. Matt Thompson, 19. Ronnie Graham, 20. Chase Williams, 21. Cole Smartt.

Fast qualifier: Jason Henry, 13.398 seconds.
Lap leaders: Mario Gresham 1-30.
Margin of victory: 0.123 seconds.
Cautions: 1
Heat winners: Jason Henry, Casey Haney, Mario Gresham.

Article Credit: Brian McLeod