Sheldon Creed earned his first career series victory on Saturday in the Buckle Up in Your Truck 225 NASCAR Gander RV Outdoors Truck Series race when lightning and rain forced the race to be called 71 laps into the scheduled 150-lapper.
Menacing weather around Kentucky Speedway ultimately causedteams to race the skies as well as each other, and Creed's bold move around Kentucky native Ben Rhodes and rookie Zane Smith in a frantic three-wide restart on Lap 52 turned out to be the trophy-maker.
Rhodes, who won here in 2018 and defending series champion Matt Crafton, who rallied from sixth place on that restart, ultimately finished second and third. Johnny Sauter and series championship leader Austin Hill rounded out the top 5.
Rookies Christian Eckes, Smith, Derek Kraus and Tanner Gray finished sixth through ninth with Todd Gilliland rounding out the top 10. Another former series champion, Brett Moffitt, who led a race best 27 laps, finished 11th after having to come back up through the field following a pit stop penalty at the conclusion of Stage 1.
It was all Moffitt in the early going. He started on pole and set the pace for the first 27 laps, but Smith got around Moffitt on a Lap 26 restart and was able to hold the point to earn his first stage win of the season.
Differing pit strategies, however, put Parker Kligerman, Crafton, Rhodes and Austin Wayne Self in front to start Stage 2 and they held their own even against the cars with fresher tires. Rhodes took the lead on Lap 46 but was beaten by Creed's aggressive move to the bottom of the track in that frantic restart on Lap 52. He led 20 laps on the night.
Creed, driver of the No. 2 GMS Chevrolet, earned his career-first win in only his 37th series start. The 22-year old Californian's previous best finish was runner-up - twice - at Eldora and Michigan last season.
"It feels awesome. I'd really like to have finished that out and get the real checkered flag," said Creed, who conceded he was a little nervous going to the bottom of the racetrack to make that winning move after watching the Xfinity and ARCA Menards Series races earlier at Kentucky.
Ultimately, it all worked out for him.
"Have to thank all my guys, who have been putting so much time in the shop," Creed said, also thanking his family, friends, sponsors and the GMS team for this significant accomplishment in his young career.
"Really wish I could have gotten to the finish line and finished that out right but I'll take this win."
Hill's fifth place finish was his seventh top 10 in the season's seven races and he now holds a commanding 47-point advantage over Rhodes in the championship standings. Creed joins two-race winner Grant Enfinger as the two full-time truck series drivers with victories on the season.
NASCAR Gander RV Outdoors Truck Series Race - 10th Annual Buckle Up In Your Truck 225
Saturday, July 11, 2020
1. (8) Sheldon Creed, Chevrolet, 71.
2. (6) Ben Rhodes, Ford, 71.
3. (14) Matt Crafton, Ford, 71.
4. (11) Johnny Sauter, Ford, 71.
5. (5) Austin Hill, Toyota, 71.
6. (4) Christian Eckes , Toyota, 71.
7. (2) Zane Smith , Chevrolet, 71.
8. (17) Derek Kraus , Toyota, 71.
9. (21) Tanner Gray , Ford, 71.
10. (9) Todd Gilliland, Ford, 71.
11. (1) Brett Moffitt, Chevrolet, 71.
12. (7) Grant Enfinger, Ford, 71.
13. (13) Raphael Lessard , Toyota, 71.
14. (31) Spencer Davis , Toyota, 71.
15. (12) Stewart Friesen, Toyota, 71.
16. (3) Tyler Ankrum, Chevrolet, 71.
17. (32) Brennan Poole(i), Toyota, 71.
18. (37) Parker Kligerman, Chevrolet, 71.
19. (16) Ty Majeski , Chevrolet, 71.
20. (27) Austin Wayne Self, Chevrolet, 71.
21. (25) Tate Fogleman , Chevrolet, 71.
22. (10) Chandler Smith, Toyota, 71.
23. (30) Cory Roper, Ford, 71.
24. (28) Jordan Anderson, Chevrolet, 71.
25. (23) Angela Ruch, Toyota, 71.
26. (33) Clay Greenfield, Toyota, 71.
27. (18) Ryan Truex, Chevrolet, 71.
28. (39) Dawson Cram, Chevrolet, 70.
29. (15) Natalie Decker, Chevrolet, 70.
30. (26) Tyler Hill, Chevrolet, 70.
31. (19) Chase Purdy, Chevrolet, 70.
32. (36) Ray Ciccarelli, Chevrolet, 70.
33. (24) Bryant Barnhill, Toyota, 69.
34. (22) Korbin Forrister, Toyota, 69.
35. (34) Tim Viens, Chevrolet, Handling, 55.
36. (40) Trey Hutchens III, Chevrolet, Accident, 50.
37. (35) Jennifer Jo Cobb, Chevrolet, Accident, 48.
38. (29) Spencer Boyd, Chevrolet, 46.
39. (20) Codie Rohrbaugh, Chevrolet, Accident, 13.
40. (38) Norm Benning, Chevrolet, Engine, 13.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 97.956 mph.
Time of Race: 1 Hrs, 5 Mins, 14 Secs. Margin of Victory: Under Caution Seconds.
Caution Flags: 7 for 25 laps.
Lead Changes: 6 among 5 drivers.
Lap Leaders: B. Moffitt 1-25;Z. Smith 26-32;B. Moffitt 33;Z. Smith 34-37;P. Kligerman 38-45;B. Rhodes 46-51;S. Creed 52-71.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Brett Moffitt 2 times for 26 laps; Sheldon Creed 1 time for 20 laps; Zane Smith 2 times for 11 laps; Parker Kligerman 1 time for 8 laps; Ben Rhodes 1 time for 6 laps.
Stage 1 Top Ten: 21,23,2,18,26,38,98,19,16,11
Stage 2 Top Ten: 2,99,88,13,16,18,21,19,15,38
--Field Level Media