RACE: THE ARCA RACING SERIES LUCAS OIL 200 AT DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2017
Sheldon had never raced at Daytona before and had only raced on one other superspeedway at Talladega in 2016. Sheldon qualified 14th because of being in a slower qualifying group than his MDM Motorsports teammates, Zane Smith and Chase Purdy, who qualified 2nd and 3rd respectively. However, Creed raced to the front and led 35 of the eventual 92 laps in the event. He was leading at the second-to-last restart when he was turned sideways and out of the lead as his teammate Chase Purdy made contact with Sean Corr and they got into the back of Creed’s car, sending him on a wild sideways ride down the banking and through the grass, while eventual race winner, Michael Self, slipped by. Creed suffered a cut tire, but no other serious damage in the melee but had to pit before the final restart, putting him back to 12th place. When the green flag flew for the final one-lap shootout, Creed had a great run on the pack in front of him and wove through many cars to finish 3rd. His points for 3rd place, plus 5 bonus points for leading a lap, and 5 more bonus points for leading the most laps put Sheldon in 2nd place in the championship standings going into the Music City 200 at Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville, Tennessee on April 7.
This was your first race at Daytona; did it feel special because it was Daytona?
“Yeah, it was pretty cool but the coolest thing was leading the race because the leader really controls the race. You really learn how to use the air and other cars to control the race from the front and that was really fun. I feel like I’ve really matured as a driver since Talladega two years ago (Note: Talladega in 2016 was Sheldon’s first experience on a superspeedway), I just listen and understand more from my crew chief and my spotter. At one point I was in 2nd and I just played around with the air to learn what it would do to the car in front of me and behind me.
Do you have any special memories of watching races at Daytona as a kid? Did you ever imagine growing up that you’d ever race there?
“My dad would always watch the whole Daytona 500 and I would come in and watch the last 20 or 30 laps with him. I grew up racing BMX and Motocross and that’s what I was really into and I never thought I’d be racing at Daytona someday. Of course, now I watch every NASCAR race of any kind and really try to study and learn from them.
Since you qualified a bit behind your teammates did you have a plan to hook up as soon as you could or was it every man for himself?
“We definitely wanted to get together but really we just wanted to do whatever we could to stay safe until it was time to really race. I was able to save a ton of fuel where I was compared to Zane and Chase running up front and that really helped later on.
Did you find that certain cars were better to draft with or get a push from on restarts? Were some better than others at pushing? The 54 (Noah Gragson) was the best at pushing and drafting but he has the most experience. The 27 car was good and on that 2nd to last restart Chase (teammate Chase Purdy in the #8) was really trying to help but he actually got my wheels off the ground and got me a little sideways. Sometimes on a restart you’d just be at half throttle to try and get the car behind you up to your bumper because you had to have someone pushing.
Were you concerned about fuel toward the end?
“Not really. I coasted a lot during cautions and saved a ton of fuel. It was funny because in the second half of the race all the cars at the front were shutting off and coasting together and sometimes it was just quiet out there.”
Exactly what happened on that 2nd to last restart?
“The 8 was pushing me pretty hard and then the 43 and the 8 got together and that knocked me sideways. I thought it was going to hook and hit the wall head on so I just kept it wide open and then I hit the apron and then the grass and then it came up on the banking again and I got it straightened back out. I wasn’t really thinking about wrecking in the moment, I was just trying to save it. I cut a tire down sometime in the wreck, and it was just a slow leak but I had to pit for a new tire and then at the restart I was like 11th or 12th. I had a really good run on the restart but you can’t pass until after the flagstand and all the Venturini cars were protecting Self out front but I was able to get up to 3rd at the finish, so I was pretty happy with that.”
You’re 2nd in the points standings now but the points leader, Michael Self, isn’t running the whole series. Does that change your strategy going into Nashville?
“We really need to be strong these first few rounds and try to build a cushion for some of the races where we might not be as good. We need to race hard and be smart but the goal is to try to lead the championship the whole way.”
About Sheldon Creed:
Sheldon Creed, nicknamed “The Showstopper” began racing BMX at age 3 and won 2 motocross championships at age 6. Until 2017 when he did not compete full time in any one series, he won at least one championship every year since 2008. Career highlights;
- 25 Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series 1st Place Finishes
- 5 Championship Off Road Racing Series 1st Place Finishes
- 2015 – X-Games Gold Medalist in Stadium Super Trucks
- 2015 & 2016 Speed Energy Stadium Super Trucks Champion
- 2016 - Also raced in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, the ARCA Series and the world- famous Dakar Rally
- 2017 - Competed in the ARCA Series, NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and West, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series, Trans Am Series, and Stadium Super Trucks Series. In 35 races, had 27 top-10s, 19 top-5s, and 6 wins.
- 2018 - Will compete full-time in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards for MDM Motorsports. Currently 2nd place in championship points.
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