Creed Trucks His Way Into The Championship 4

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, October 26 2020

Sheldon Creed drove to victory lane in the Texas Speedway truck series race. (RacinToday/HHP photo byHarold Hinson)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer

FORT WORTH, Texas – NASCAR Playoff contender Sheldon Creed avoided the carnage created by “hard racing” and 10 caution periods to score an overtime victory over Austin Hill Sunday afternoon in the 24th annual SpeedyCash.com 400. 

Creed’s first NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series victory at TMS secured the second spot in the Championship 4 at Phoenix Raceway on Nov. 6. Creed joined GMS Racing teammate Brett Moffitt, winner last weekend at Kansas Speedway, for the organization owned by Maurice Gallagher Jr. and based in Statesville, N.C. Moffitt, in fact, gave Creed the push he needed during the overtime restart to clear Hill and the field.

“Two trucks locked-in for the organization, that’s awesome,” said Creed, driver of the No. 2 Chevrolet. “Hard racing today. Man, it’s crazy. We’ve just been working for this all year and I feel like I’ve improved so much and put so much work into this. Man, going to Martinsville stress-free is so nice.”

The final two Championship 4 slots will be filled on Martinsville Speedway’s half-mile, paperclip-shaped oval on Friday, Oct. 30, during the NASCAR Hall of Fame 200. Point totals for the six drivers still looking to secure those spots: Hill (3,123 points), Zane Smith (3,108), Matt Crafton (3,096), Grant Enfinger (3,066), Ben Rhodes (3,063) and Tyler Ankrum (3,029).

Originally scheduled for 147 laps, Creed outlasted Playoff contender Hill during a two-lap shootout to win by 0.131-seconds. Smith finished third after 152 laps in his No 21 GMS Racing Chevy Silverado. Creed, who started on-pole, led a race-high 131 laps around TMS’ high-banked, 1.5-mile oval.

“Man, what a good truck my guys put together,” Creed said. “We’ve been inconsistent here but we’ve always had speed, and today man, just awesome. I finally won in front of my mom and dad!”

The green-white-checkered finish began to unfold on Lap 151 with Hill challenging Creed for the point. Moffitt provided the push Creed needed to get out front going into Turn 3 and coming to the white flag. The race actually ended under caution, as the yellow was displayed just before Creed crossed the start/finish.

“Creed has teammates and I don’t, is kind of what it came down to,” said Hill, driver of the No. 16 AISIN Group Toyota Tundra. “The No. 23 (Moffitt) just pushed him down the backstretch and pushed him to the lead. I got probably the best start you could possibly get, was side-by-side with him right at the start/finish line. Didn’t have a ton of help from behind going into Turn 1, but I was able to stay on his outside off of (Turn) 2, which not a lot of people were able to do.

“I thought that I did everything right. It was just there at the end when the No. 23 sucked up to him and got to him and pushed him into (Turn) 3. He was able to clear me and after that, I’m wide-open but I couldn’t get to him. It kind of stings a little bit knowing how good our truck was and we had to fight through some adversity, come from the back and do things like that and we still ended up with a P2 finish. Pretty good day for us, but still kind of stings a little bit.”

Creed, who led on eight occasions, scored his previous victories this season in July at Kentucky Speedway and in August at both Daytona International Speedway and World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Ill. This was his first Gander Trucks victory in six attempts at “No Limits, Texas.”

The balance of the top-10 finishers were Smith, Raphael Lessard, Moffitt, Crafton, Austin Wayne Self, Dylan Lupton, Derek Kraus, and Tanner Gray.

Creed led the field throughout the first 35 laps to take the Stage 1 win. Stage 2 began on Lap 41 with Creed at the point, and he still was leading when the day’s second caution flew on Lap 43 due to hard contact in Turn 2 involving the No. 68 Rackley Roofing Toyota Tundra of Clay Greenfield. The race was red-flagged for five minutes to clean debris.

Rhodes put his No. 99 Tenda Heal Ford F-150 out front for the Lap 48 restart but Creed jumped back on top one lap later. Creed maintained the lead until Lap 58 when Crafton, the three-time/reigning series champion, pushed his No. 88 Chi Chi’s/Menards Ford into the lead. However, Creed moved ahead one lap later and remained there through Lap 64. Crafton reclaimed the point on Lap 65 and was leading three laps later to take the Stage 2 win after Lap 70.

The final stage proved costly for multiple title contenders. On Lap 93, Enfinger drove his No. 98 Champion/Curb Records Ford into the garage, done for the day with a mechanical issue. On Lap 107, Rhodes and the No. 38 Frontline Enterprise Inc. Ford of Todd Gilliland made contact, although both continued.

On Lap 118, the No. 51 JBL Toyota of Chandler Smith had its left rear wheel come loose, and off, along the backstretch. Rhodes’ truck suffered damage to the left-front after hard contact with the No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass Toyota driven by Christian Eckes on Lap 146, forcing the overtime.

There were 14 lead changes among six drivers, while the 10 cautions consumed 49 laps. Creed began the day second in points, but 26 above the cutoff line. With the victory, the 23-year-old native of Alpine, Calif., exited Texas with a 19-point lead over Hill. Creed scored his fourth win in 52 career starts.

Hill indicated he would continue to be aggressive at Martinsville, despite his favorable point position. “I don’t think you can ever be very comfortable when you’re going into a place like Martinsville,” Hill said. “You can very easily get caught up in somebody else’s mess. You go out there, run your own race.

“It’s nice having those points stacked-up and to have a cushion. But we really have to get through the first two stages and try to get as many points as we can. If we have a really good cushion, we’ll just try to make it to the end of the race. Then at the end, we’ll go for the win. It all depends on how the first two stages of Martinsville go.”


| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, October 26 2020
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