Creed Ties A Record With 10th Xfinity Series Runner-Up

#18: Sheldon Creed, Joe Gibbs Racing, Friends of Jaclyn Foundation Toyota Supra

LOUDON, N.H. – Sheldon Creed came as close as he ever has to winning his first NASCAR Xfinity Series race on Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Creed, the 26-year-old from Alpine, Calif., took his No. 18 Friends of Jaclyn Foundation Toyota GR Supra to a runner-up finish in the SciAps 200, battling for the victory during an overtime restart at the 1.058-mile oval.

Lining up fourth after the choose for the two-lap sprint to the checkered flag, Creed got a strong run off the second corner that allowed him to clear his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Christopher Bell down the backstretch.

He gave a nudge to leader Cole Custer in turn three that moved Custer up the racetrack, allowing Creed to get to the inside while Bell went even lower and made it three-wide for the win off the fourth corner.

Creed led by a half-car length at the white flag, clearing Custer before turn one and racing Bell side-by-side into the penultimate set of corners. Though Creed attempted to stay with Bell on the top lane, a wiggle in turn two allowed Bell to get clear into the top spot, leaving Creed to do battle with Custer.

Creed beat Custer back to the finish line to secure second place, but could only watch as Bell took the checkered flag and denied him his first Xfinity Series victory.

It marked Creed’s 10th career runner-up finish at NASCAR’s second-highest level, tying him with NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett and past series champion Daniel Hemric for the most second-place finishes without a win in series history.

After the race, Creed was straightforward when asked if he could have used a different plan to put himself into victory lane.

“I feel like there’s probably a million things [that] I could have done differently,” said a reflective Creed. “That’s not a stat that I wanted to tie, honestly, having the most second [place]s before a win. I thought when I got next to the 00 [Custer] coming to the white [flag] that that was going to be my opportunity. Obviously, the 20 [Bell] got a good run, and shipped it down into [turn] one there to get past us.

“I felt like I was going to stay outside of him; I think the 00 just was able to stay close enough to me that, with my car being free on the short run that we couldn’t quite challenge the way we needed to,” Creed continued. “We just were a little bit too free to stay outside of Christopher off the corner.”

Bell may have collected the victory laurels in the end, but admitted he “got a little lucky” and was complimentary of Creed’s race craft during the closing stages as the duo battled for supremacy.

“I do feel bad for Sheldon; he’s been really, really close to winning one of these things, and today he did everything right to win that race,” Bell explained. “He chose the right lane for the restart, gave Cole a good push, and then coming to the white [flag] he got Cole loose and that’s what opened the door for me.

“We got lucky there, but Sheldon is right where he needs to be and he’s going to get the job done soon.”

Saturday’s result allowed Creed to maintain the fifth spot in regular season points, 105 back of Custer for the series lead. Of the six drivers currently on the playoff grid by points, Creed is second in that group.

“Overall, good day. I’m proud of everyone with our group at Joe Gibbs Racing and everyone at Toyota,” said Creed. “We made our car better all day. We’ve been in the hunt for the last four weeks, so we’re just going to keep working hard at it.

“It was a little rough on rain tires, but as soon as we got dries on it, we got our Supra better and better. I wasn’t great on the short run, but I felt like we could compete at times. Just stayed in it … and came home second again.”

With as much speed as he’s had in recent weeks, Creed was quick to stress that he feels a breakthrough triumph is “just around the corner” for his team, led by crew chief Sam McAulay.

“I’m getting happier every week,” Creed tipped. “Every week that we can run [in the] top five and be in contention, that’s all I can ask for. I’ve been really excited the past month with how our team has performed and consistently improved, and I know we’re going to win one of these things if we keep running how we are right now.”

Creed and the rest of the Xfinity Series field head next to Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway’s 1.33-mile concrete oval for the running of the Tennessee Lottery 250.

Coverage of that race begins at 5 p.m. ET, live on USA, the Performance Racing Network, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.