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Creed Wins 2020 NASCAR Truck Series Title

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, November 7 2020

Sheldon Creed has gone from wall-banger to Truck Series champion. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Andrew Coppley)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

AVONDALE, Ariz. – Aggressive drivers usually become champions once they learn to control that trait and Sheldon Creed is proof there is truth in that adage.

“When we first started working together in ARCA, he was fast,” crew chief Jeff Stankiewicz said Friday night after winning the 2020 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series title with Creed. 

“He had a lot of speed, but was bouncing off walls. We’d have huge leads, he’d run it into the wall, and take us out of the race.”

However, with coaching from former driver Josh Wise, the 23-year-old Creed harnessed that aggression. He became more focused and it took him only two full-time seasons in the Truck Series to mature into the 2020 champion. 

With Creed’s Lucas Oil 150 victory at Phoenix Raceway, he provided GMS Racing with its second driver championship. Two of his series leading five victories came during the playoffs in the 23-race season. His accomplishment made him the fourth California native to earn a NASCAR Truck title with the other three being Mike Skinner, NASCAR Hall of Fame member Ron Hornaday Jr. and Matt Crafton.

 However, had it not been for Wise, Creed’s championship might not have occurred so early in his career.  

“Josh has been an amazing help to Sheldon,” Stankiewicz said. “He’s getting more and more better with his race craft through Josh. Just everything he does as far as his physical and mental aspect of the sport.

“He’s mentally focused. He’s not laying down. He works out every week, meets with Josh. It’s a complete opposite Sheldon Creed than when I first started working with him.”

 When Creed joined the Truck Series in 2019 after claiming the 2018 ARCA championship he found a much different form of racing and Stankiewicz considered him “overly confident.”

“He didn’t quite understand that the Truck Series is a whole different ballgame than the ARCA Series when it comes to the competition and drivers,” Stankiewicz said. “It took him a while to realize even though he is really good on restarts that nobody is going to give him anything. They’re going to ride on his quarter panel, they’re going to block.  It is probably some of the hardest racing on restarts.  I think he tried to overcompensate for that a lot, got him in a lot of bad positions last year.”

 That wasn’t the case, however, in the series season finale. With five laps remaining, Creed was fourth and had resolved himself to that finishing position. GMS Racing teammate Brett Moffitt possessed a 2.910-second advantage over second-place Grant Enfinger. With those two title contenders ahead of Creed, that would have left him third in the championship standings. But then everything changed with three laps remaining when Dawson Cram crashed in turn three. That sent the scheduled 150-lap race into overtime and opened the door of opportunity for Creed. The Alpine, Calif., native pitted for four fresh tires with about 80 percent of the field. Moffitt and Enfinger remained on the track. 

“That helped us get that buffer,” Stankiewicz said. “When he came out, I knew we had a chance.  That’s all we could do at that point was give him a fighting chance. I had all the confidence in the world he could do it.” 

 Creed restarted eighth and exhibited the type of aggressive restart that has become his trademark. 

 “When it comes to restarts, I wouldn’t want anybody other than Sheldon Creed driving that thing,” Stankiewicz said. “He’s a maniac on restarts. We’ve won a couple races this year because of his restarts.”

Such was the case Friday night. Once the green flag waved Creed dove to the inside and relied on the one-mile track’s wide, flat apron to shoot him to the front. Heading for the first turn, he survived a four-wide scramble, quickly dispensing with multiple cars. By the time they exited the fourth-turn and with the white flag in sight, Creed had assumed the lead. He then held off GMS Racing teammate Zane Smith to claim his fifth victory this year by less than a second.

“We tightened it way up because I was extremely free,” Creed said about the changes to his truck on the final stop. “Just had a plan to run the bottom and just try to pick off as many guys as I could.  I was able to get to the gas extremely fast. Just got clear off of (turn) four there and had to put together a good lap.”

 Smith and Moffitt, who finished second and third, respectively, in the title battle, were unable to hide their disappointment after the race.

“It was a good year,” said Smith, who collected two victories in his rookie season and finish second in the championship, “but, man, it’s a disgusting feeling to finish second in this deal being that close.”

Moffitt, who broke both legs in March in a motocross accident, was devastated.

“This year’s been hell on and off the race track,” said Moffitt, who has yet to announce his 2021 plans. “Race strategy has been a downfall for us all year.  We’ve thrown away multiple wins because of it.  It’s frustrating to lose a championship because of it.” 

(Editor’s Note: Deb Williams is in her fourth decade of covering motorsports. The former editor of NASCAR Winston Cup Scene and managing editor of GT Motorsports has also covered auto racing for United Press International, USA Today and The Charlotte Observer. The 1990 and 1996 National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year has authored five books and hosts the podcast “Racing Now and Then.”)

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NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Race – 26th Annual Lucas Oil 150

Phoenix Raceway

Avondale, Arizona

Friday, November 6, 2020

  1. (3)  Sheldon Creed (P), Chevrolet, 156.
  2. (2)  Zane Smith # (P), Chevrolet, 156.
  3. (21)  Chandler Smith, Toyota, 156.
  4. (7)  Christian Eckes #, Toyota, 156.
  5. (13)  Raphael Lessard #, Toyota, 156.
  6. (9)  Stewart Friesen, Toyota, 156.
  7. (6)  Ben Rhodes, Ford, 156.
  8. (10)  Tyler Ankrum, Chevrolet, 156.
  9. (22)  Todd Gilliland, Ford, 156.
  10. (4)  Brett Moffitt (P), Chevrolet, 156.
  11. (16)  Johnny Sauter, Ford, 156.
  12. (17)  Austin Hill, Toyota, 156.
  13. (1)  Grant Enfinger (P), Ford, 156.
  14. (5)  Matt Crafton, Ford, 156.
  15. (23)  Tanner Gray #, Ford, 156.
  16. (32)  Dylan Lupton, Ford, 156.
  17. (15)  Sam Mayer, Chevrolet, 156.
  18. (12)  Trevor Bayne, Chevrolet, 156.
  19. (28)  Tate Fogleman #, Chevrolet, 156.
  20. (14)  Austin Wayne Self, Chevrolet, 156.
  21. (25)  Ryan Truex, Chevrolet, 155.
  22. (20)  Jordan Anderson, Chevrolet, 154.
  23. (27)  Spencer Davis #, Toyota, 154.
  24. (8)  Derek Kraus #, Toyota, 153.
  25. (26)  Tyler Hill, Chevrolet, 153.
  26. (11)  Danny Bohn, Toyota, 153.
  27. (18)  Spencer Boyd, Chevrolet, 152.
  28. (24)  Dawson Cram, Chevrolet, 152.
  29. (33)  Robby Lyons(i), Chevrolet, 152.
  30. (29)  Akinori Ogata, Toyota, 150.
  31. (30)  Jennifer Jo Cobb, Chevrolet, 147.
  32. (19)  Carson Hocevar, Chevrolet, Accident, 103.
  33. (31)  Josh Reaume, Chevrolet, Brakes, 44.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  99.557 mph.

Time of Race:  1 Hrs, 34 Mins, 1 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.617 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  4 for 28 laps.

Lead Changes:  8 among 5 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   Z. Smith # (P) 1-48;G. Enfinger (P) 49;S. Creed (P) 50-74;B. Moffitt (P) 75-93;B. Rhodes 94;B. Moffitt (P) 95-153;G. Enfinger (P) 154;S. Creed (P) 155-156.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Brett Moffitt (P) 2 times for 78 laps; Zane Smith # (P) 1 time for 48 laps; Sheldon Creed (P) 2 times for 27 laps; Grant Enfinger (P) 2 times for 2 laps; Ben Rhodes 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 21,2,23,98,88,99,26,18,52,19

Stage #2 Top Ten: 23,21,2,99,98,52,26,4,18,24

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, November 7 2020
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