By Brian Eberly, Contributing Writer
KANSAS CITY, Kan.— Sheldon Creed wheeled his No. 28 MDM Motorsports Toyota on to the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway on Friday morning for practice, officially clinching the 2018 ARCA Racing Series championship.
Creed, like all of the competitors who have competed in all of the previous five series events, received a 250 point bonus, the fourth and final leg of the 2018 “enter and compete” bonus program which rewards owners and drivers with bonus points following each of the four five-race segments that comprise the season. When Creed took the track for practice, he received his bonus points and officially clinched the championship.
Creed has three wins and fifteen top-five finishes in 19 races and sports an average finish of 4.4. The 2018 season is the Alpine, California natives first on a full-time basis as he brings a championship to team owners Matthew Miller, Doug Fuller and Mark McFarland.
He started the season with four consecutive top-five finishes, including a runner-up finish at Nashville. After two more podium finishes at Charlotte and Pocono, Creed finally broke through for his first career win at Michigan. He backed it up with two additional victories at Gateway and Iowa, propelling him into the series championship lead, a lead he would continue to extend throughout the remainder of the season.
The ARCA championship puts a bow on the plethora of awards Creed has earned this season, which include the ARCA Sioux Chief Short Track Challenge championship, the General Tire Superspeedway Challenge and the General Tire Pole Award.
“Winning an ARCA championship means a ton to me because it’s my first stock car championship and when I transitioned from off-road I didn’t know if I’d ever win a pavement championship,” Creed said.
“To win in ARCA is really special, not just because of all the great drivers that have come before me, but also the really high level of competition that we’ve had to race against all year, especially my own MDM teammate, Zane Smith, and a bunch of other really good young drivers. To come out on top of that group is pretty cool.”
At the age of 21, Creed already has over a decade of racing experience under his belt. He started his racing career in quarter midgets at eight years of age, before jumping into Championship Off-Road Racing’s Trophy Karts. He also competed in short course off-road racing, including the Robby Gordon Stadium Super Truck Series where he was a two-time champion in 2015 and 2016. From there, he transitioned into stock car racing, with starts in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and West, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and the NASCAR XFINITY Series as well as a partial season with the ARCA Racing Series.
Creed’s car looks slightly different for the final race of the season, carrying a purple look in honor of his grandmother, Linda Ortega, who passed away after a battle with cancer in 2014.
“The purple paint scheme is a tribute to my grandmother that passed away from cancer about four years ago,” Creed said. “I’ve run a purple paint scheme once a year since she died and it’s something that’s very special to me and my family. She was like the backbone of the family and I wanted to celebrate my first stock car championship by paying tribute to her with the Grammy Strong car.”
Team and series officials will initially recognize the championship when Creed rolls off the starting grid to begin the Kansas 150. A championship celebration is planned post-race at the track and ARCA will formally crown Creed as their 33rd national champion in its 66 year history.