By Brian Eberly, Contributing Writer
One week removed from the first ARCA Racing Series victory of his career, Sheldon Creed didn’t get off to a good start at Madison International Speedway for Friday’s Herr’s Potato Chips 200.
Creed qualified his No. 28 Toyota back in the 12th position in the 19 car field and had his work cut out to maneuver through the talented field. Battling with Eddie Fatscher for the fourth spot on Lap 50 of 200, Creed spun in Turn 4 to bring out the caution.
“We ‘struggle bused’ it all day. Spun out, I don’t know what that was,” Creed told Motorsports Tribune. “That was kind of my fault; I was just pushing the issue there. I tried splitting a lapper and the 20 car (Eddie Fatscher) and I got up into the 20 car and I was already loose.”
Restarting at the rear, Creed would work his way up to the fifth spot near the halfway point of the 200-lap event and assume the lead when the other seven lead lap cars pitted under the fifth yellow flag of the race at Lap 110.
Creed would fall back to those cars with fresh General Tire rubber on the ensuing restart, but recover once he hit pit road for his four fresh tires under the sixth caution of the race at Lap 131. Working his way back to the front, the Alpine, California native would battle his fellow MDM Motorsports teammates Zane Smith and Chase Purdy throughout the remainder of the event. However, none of the MDM trio had what it took to catch race-winner Chandler Smith.
If there was a late caution, would the 20-year-old Creed have had anything for the Smith duo?
“No,” he said with a grin. “I probably could of raced Zane a little bit there, especially if he was up top on the restart. Definitely not the car we had last weekend, but hey that’s racing and that’s what we do every week.
“Good calls by the crew and we made good adjustments. We weren’t the best car, but things worked in our favor and our calls were good. I think these are the nights that might save our points championship. We really need to work on our short track game a little bit here.
“Being frustrated with a third (place finish) is a good problem to have. We struggle at short tracks but we’ve got a new car coming so hopefully that helps a little bit. Everywhere else, I’m really confident with our team and the dirt tracks (Springfield and DuQuoin) I think will be good points for us.”
Most importantly for Creed, he maintains the lead in the championship standings after Madison as the series heads to Gateway Motorsports Park for the 9th race of the 20-race season next Friday.
“I’m excited. I’ve never been there,” Creed said of Gateway. I know it’s different being tight in (turns) one and two and pretty open in (turns) three and four, so I’m looking forward to that place. I heard it’s tricky and none of us (his MDM teammates) have been there so we will all learn together.”