By: Ashley McCubbin
Sheldon Creed had run up front throughout the Lucas Oil 150, but found himself unable to track down teammate Brett Moffit for the top spot and the title in the final laps. Then everything changed in a instant.
An incident deeper in the field would draw the caution, bringing forth strategy to the forefront with a chance to change things up as Creed gave up his position inside the top-five to come down pit road for four tires.
“I felt like that was the only opportunity,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “We weren’t going to beat those guys on old tires. Getting new tires was at least getting us a fighting chance at it.”
His choice paid off, with an aggressive restart allotting him to go from ninth to third in the first couple turns, followed by passing Grant Enfinger for the lead to win the race and championship.
A full throttle attack is nothing new for Creed, as he’d been all out since the beginning of his racing career, competing on dirt. The formation of the Stadium Super Trucks by Robby Gordon, though, brought a new opportunity as he’d get a chance to build on those dirt skills, while competing on some of the world’s most re-known road and street courses.
The aggressive nature continued to pay off there, with Creed hitting the ramps full throttle as he honed his driving skills, finding a way to maneuver his truck around the likes of Gordon and Arie Luyendyk Jr. to score victories, and a couple series championships.
The continued success brought forth a chance to go asphalt stock car racing in the form of ARCA Menards Series and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoor Truck Series. Creed’s full-out style did not work initially, as he found himself with damage more often than he would’ve hoped.
However, those around him remained faithful in seeing the pure speed possible. Under the guidance of Josh Wise in working not only on his fitness but reviewing races and finding ways to be better as a driver, he began to find the balance between where to push and be consistent.
“I feel like that’s where I struggled the most, was racing around people, just being hotheaded I guess middle of race, not making good decisions,” he commented. “I feel like I’m not a different race car driver. I feel like I still am really aggressive, do a lot of the same things. I’m just smarter. I think (indiscernible) told me, You can be fast whenever you want, but smart race car drivers win races. Just focus on that and how can I outsmart everyone around me, outrace people.”
The hard work has certainly shined through as Creed turned no trips to victory lane with four top-five’s in 2019 to a championship, five wins, and nine top-five’s a year later.
While they say the journey makes the driver who they are, and a past champion himself in Jimmie Johnson came from a similar route, Creed says looking back five years ago, he possibly should have got his feet wet in late models.
“I feel like I was behind a lot of people learning,” he admitted. “I was older than them. I’m older than Zane and Tyler, a lot of these kids. I was just behind them not racing late models, learning all this stuff.
“Yeah, just to watch film. I didn’t really do any of that till last year. I just would show up to the racetrack, try to be fast. I didn’t put any effort into it. That’s hard to understand as a kid. You’re 17, 18 years old, I was coming from off road where that was just really natural to me. Coming this way, it was a totally different world. Yeah, just try harder, absorb everything I could, watch more film.”