Sunday, March 27, 2022

TRUCKS: Sheldon Creed’s first last-place run a rarity among Truck Series polesitters


Sheldon Creed picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career in Saturday’s XPEL 225 at the Circuit of the Americas when his #20 Wiley X Chevrolet fell out with a drivetrain issue after just 1 of the 46 laps.

The finish came in Creed’s 76th series start. In the Truck Series’ last-place rankings, it was the 1st from drivetrain issues, the 9th for the #20, and the 418th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 1st from drivetrain problems, the 54th for the #20, and the 1,827th for Chevrolet.

The 2020 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Champion, the California-born Creed pulled off the feat in just his second full-time season driving the #2 Chevrolet for powerhouse GMS Racing. He prevailed over teammate Brett Moffitt, who was felled by a late-race restart which put Creed within striking distance of his fifth and most critical series victory.

Yet despite their success together, Creed and his GMS teammates struggled to land consistent sponsorship. Much like Cup teams Richard Childress Racing and Chip Ganassi Racing, Chevrolet was itself his sponsor for much of his championship season. In early 2021, he ran a flat white truck on the Daytona Road Course, finishing runner-up to Ben Rhodes. While Creed participated in CEO Marcus Lemonis’ offer to put Camping World logos on his truck at Las Vegas (then Overton’s in Atlanta), by May he criticized the program, saying his team was worth more than the $15,000 offered in the promotion.

The controversy intensified in the weeks after, when Creed began to carry sponsorship from That sponsor had previously signed with Motorsports Business Management to back Carl Long’s entries in Cup and XFINITY. The company had come on board to fill the void left by, who did not renew with MBM in the wake of COVID-19. While LiftKits4Less has sponsored some of MBM’s runs in XFINITY, the Cup team has since scaled back. After sponsoring Creed for the remainder of his three-win season, LiftKits4Less has since moved to a brand-new Truck Series team in G2G Racing.

This year, Creed joined fellow Truck Series regular Austin Hill as teammates at Richard Childress Racing. Piloting the #2 entry with Whelen as sponsor, Creed finished 6th in the Daytona opener, where Hill went to victory lane. Creed has since finished 7th in Las Vegas and 9th just last week in Las Vegas, keeping him 11th in the standings. But COTA presented the opportunity to run double-duty with his first Truck Series start since the 2021 finale with GMS. Creed would be the third different driver to run Randy Young’s #20 entry, which carried sponsorship from Wiley X sunglasses. Creed finished 5th in the series’ rainy 2021 inaugural.

With no chance of rain this past weekend, Creed showed impressive speed from the start of practice. His sixth of seven laps was fastest of the session, nearly four whole tenths better than Kyle Busch. Creed then defended this in qualifying, securing the pole with a lap of 90.985mph (2 minutes, 14.924 seconds), besting outside-polesitter Zane Smith by nearly three-tenths of second. The speed also carried over to the XFINITY side, where he ranked 2nd in practice behind session leader Preston Pardus and earned 6th place on the grid. Missing the Truck race were the #47 Mission Tortilla Toyota of Samuel LeComte and the #79 A&J Lab Portal Chevrolet of John Atwell, both in their second season of seeking their first series starts. Tyler Hill was also unable to get Hill Motorsports’ new second entry, the #5 Toyota, into the show.

But a fuel pump change would drop Creed to the back of the field before the start, one of no fewer than 14 drivers docked for unapproved adjustments – nearly half the field. Among these were last-place starter Matt DiBenedetto, whose #25 Rackley Roofing / WAR Shocks Chevrolet broke a track bar in practice, forcing the team to skip qualifying. Matt Crafton was set to start 20th in the #88 Ideal Door / Menards Toyota, but incurred both a tail-end penalty and a pass-through after the green flag. Crafton’s harsh penalties came after his team adjusted the truck in the impound area without first receiving approval from a NASCAR official. 

Practice and qualifying appeared to take a toll on many of the trucks as mechanical issues persisted through the pace laps. Matt Jaskol in 35th reported brake issues on his #46 Toyota, followed by 19th-place Ty Majeski in the #66 American Racing Wheels Toyota. Majeski made an unscheduled stop during the pace laps, where the crew lifted the hood and sent him back out. Scoring first indicated that Brad Perez had taken over last place, having crossed the stripe 4.925 seconds back of the lead in his #43 GreenTech Energy Toyota. But despite Perez’ concerns when he was later interviewed by FS1, he never actually held last place in his NASCAR national series debut. As he crossed the stripe, he ran 35th ahead of Majeski, who was still several seconds behind him, trying to close the gap after his unscheduled stop.

On the first lap, Austin Wayne Self locked the brakes on his #22 AM Technical Solutions Chevrolet, collecting Taylor Gray in the #17 Ford Performance Ford. Both re-fired their engines and continued rolling as they dropped near the tail end of the field, still trailed by Majeski. Crafton took the green flag ahead of some of the other penalized drivers, showing more than a second ahead of the last truck across the stripe, but slowed at the end of Lap 1 to serve his penalty. But Majeski was still so far behind Crafton that the #88 didn’t fall further back than 35th with Majeski a full 92.88 seconds back of the lead to complete Lap 1. By then, Austin Wayne Self had pitted his damaged #22 for repairs, and was already down to four minutes left on his “Crash Clock.” On Lap 2, the trailing Majeski dropped Self to last as the #22 remained on pit road.

On Lap 3, Creed made an unscheduled stop, then abruptly pulled behind the wall with a mechanical issue. Radio traffic played on the broadcast indicated a possible issue with the bell housing, and the radio went silent soon after. That same time by, Self’s team completed repairs, and he finally completed his first lap in last place. Not far behind, Jaskol’s brake problem had apparently worsened, and he pulled behind the wall in 34th. The driver was vocal with his frustrations, saying he only needed a battery change. Meanwhile, Self completed a second lap on Lap 4 as he cleared the “Crash Clock,” dropping the #20 to last place. Self returned to pit road for additional repairs and ultimately finished 27th after at least one other crash.

Finishing 35th was Blaine Perkins, whose #9 Raceline Chevrolet pulled behind the wall on Lap 6 with a transmission issue. Logan Bearden pulled his #37 Bearden Automotive Chevrolet behind the wall on the same lap, but returned to action on Lap 11 followed by Jaskol on Lap 13. Jaskol only climbed to 33rd before his truck stalled on the track in the final laps, forcing the race into overtime. He did manage to pass Hailie Deegan, whose #1 Monster Energy Ford suffered a steering failure after a late-race incident. Jack Wood rounded out the Bottom Five after suffering damage to his #24 Chevrolet Truck Month Chevrolet, then ultimately running out of time on the “Crash Clock.”

One of the race’s standout runs belonged to Lawless Alan, who earned a career-best 11th-place finish in Al Niece’s #45 Chevrolet. Alan, who finished 23rd in the inaugural COTA race last year, had previously run no better than 18th last summer at Bristol and had crashed out of four of his previous five series starts, including his first last-place run last fall in Phoenix.

*As indicated above, this marked the first time in the history of NASCAR’s top three national series that the last-place finisher fell out due to a “drivetrain” issue.
*This marked the first last-place finish for the #20 in a Truck Series race since October 3, 2020, when Spencer Boyd’s #20 Alabama Roofing Professionals Chevrolet was eliminated in a multi-truck crash after 12 laps of the Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Talladega.
*Creed is only the third polesitter to finish last in a Truck Series race. He joins Rich Bickle, whose #43 Cummins Engines Dodge lost the engine after 98 laps at Colorado National Speedway on June 1, 1996, and David Reutimann, whose #17 NTN Bearings Toyota lost the engine after 24 laps at Homestead on November 19, 2005. Creed is the only one of these three to have not led any laps in the same race, a direct result of his pre-race penalty.

36) #20-Sheldon Creed / 1 lap / drivetrain
35) #9-Blaine Perkins / 3 laps / transmission
34) #1-Hailie Deegan / 29 laps / crash
33) #46-Matt Jaskol / 30 laps / electrical
32) #24-Jack Wood / 31 laps / dvp

1st) David Gilliland Racing Ford, Front Row Motorsports, Niece Motorsports, Young’s Motorsports (1)

1st) Chevrolet, Ford (2)


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