By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
Third-place finisher Sheldon Creed shined bright in Sunday’s Pocono Organics 150 at Pocono Raceway, winning the first two stages and wowing the fans watching at home in the process.
However, the disappointment was present for the highest finishing GMS Racing driver as he knew a shot of his first NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series win slipped away.
Going into the Tunnel Turn with two laps to go, Creed found an opening at the middle lane and muscled his way past Brandon Jones and Austin Hill, propelling himself from third to the race lead.
Jones wouldn’t give up without a fight as he stayed within striking distance of Creed, battling side-by-side at the Long Pond Straight. Jones made made the top line work to perfection, passing Creed at the same corner that three-wide pass was made and went on to score his maiden series win.
“I know exactly where I lost it. I broke the draft, not realizing how close (Jones) was to me off (Turn) 3 and I let him go to the top. That’s pretty much where it was over,” a frustrated Creed on losing the battle against Jones.
“I should’ve never let him go to the top. I’ll remember that and a good lesson to learn, so I’ll take that with me.”
As soon Jones took the lead, Creed would lose the runner-up spot to Hill. Nevertheless, it was best finish of what’s been a really underwhelming sophomore campaign as Sunday marked his first top-three result since Michigan last August.
Following the race, Creed commented that another frustrating thing about losing the race on the last lap was the decision making when going through the winning pressure.
“It goes back to how the truck is driving. It’s really hard to make decisions when I was so wrecking loose every week we’ve gone to and every time we unloaded. It’s really hard to make decisions when you’re like that,” said Creed.
“If you go low, you know you’re going to be loose off. If you go high, you’re going to be super loose in behind them. I don’t know, felt like I was struggling with decision making.
“You watch some guys drive loose race cars and I feel like I’m one that can do it pretty good. I see other people that were loose driving away from me. I don’t know if I was that much more loose or anything, but I don’t know. I guess that stuff gets through your head after a few weeks of it.”
Despite the disappointment, the aggressive 22-year-old racer led a race-high 31 of 60 laps to back up his two stage victories and near victory.
Part of the reason Creed was content with his overall day was due to the fact his crew chief Jeff Stankiewicz and engineer Sam Bowers made the right setup to make his No. 2 Chevy Accessories Chevrolet Silverado competitive.
“I’m proud of my guys. They worked pretty hard after Homestead. We’ve been racing at the back half of the top-10 and that’s really frustrating,” said Creed. “Feels good to run up front again and being able to drive how I want, be aggressive, and have a good truck underneath me. I’m happy with the finish and hope we can keep this momentum going.”
That particular truck raced at Atlanta where Creed wound up 14th, but for him to exit a slick Pocono, where the five-truck stable haven’t historically raced well, brought some encouragement that’ll bode well for the next race at Kentucky (Saturday, July 11 at 6 p.m. EST on FS1) and beyond.
“Both tracks were just slick, and I feel like GMS as a whole and as a company, we’ve struggled at Atlanta and Homestead. I knew coming here we would be a little bit better at least with a higher grip track. Really, the next few tracks (Kentucky, Kansas and Texas) we’re usually pretty decent,” said Creed.
“I knew we be a little bit better, but I knew we still had to work on things. Jeff and Sam did a really good job on the pull-down for two-and-a-half days this week just trying stuff and got something that they felt they were happy with,” Creed added.
“I was like, ‘Just whatever you want to roll with, I’ll drive it and tell you if it works or not.’ Thankfully, it worked well.”
The top-three result also skyrocketed Creed from ninth to fourth in the regular season standings after six races.
“I’m a super competitive person. I want to run up front and be able to do stuff like I did today,” said Creed. “Like, I want to be able to make a show out of it and drive aggressive and do what I want with a race truck. Today, I had something that I can do that with.”