Off the track, Sheldon Creed and Todd Gilliland are friends, but on the track, they may have to settle for “frenemies” for the time being. Creed expects payback might be headed his way after an incident between the two in Sunday’s Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway.
With 38 laps to go in the CarShield 200 Presented by CK Power, Creed door-slammed Gilliland while trying to pass him on the inside for the lead. The contact from Creed’s No. 2 GMS Racing Chevrolet sent Gilliland’s No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford up the track and into the outside wall. Meanwhile, Sam Mayer, in the No. 24 GMS Racing Chevrolet, went past both of them to take over the lead. Creed eventually went on to win the race after he overmatched Mayer on a restart with 13 laps to go.
“Yeah I mean I hate racing like that,” Creed said in post-race interviews. “It’s so hard to pass here, and the 24 (Mayer) came with a run and pushed me and I figured I’ll have a good shot here. I was doing passes like that all day, I’d get clear to the inside and go to the rumble strips and slide up the race track. We both drove it in there really tight and he held it on me really tight and I was just really free and couldn’t turn the wheel.”
After the contact, Gilliland headed to pit road for repairs and fell off the lead lap, ending with a 24th-place finish. And although Gilliland actually gained points against the playoff cutline thanks in large part to winning the first two stages, he was left to think about what could’ve been. Gilliland had the dominant truck while leading 76 of 160 laps and seemed to be heading toward a playoff-clinching and redemptive win for the driver who switched from Kyle Busch Motorsports last year.
Instead, Gilliland will continue his battle just above the playoff cutline and now sits 13 points in front of Derek Kraus with five races left in the regular season.
“I think he knows what happened, and I think I know what happened, and he just drove in over his head there and got us,” Gilliland said. “But that’s racing. Gosh, I just hate it man. … We just had such a good truck to go from sixth to first under green and to win both stages. I felt like this was such a good day. It was one of the more dominant truck races I’ve ever ran.”
Now the question becomes whether Gilliland will enact payback in one of the final regular-season races, or even worse, in the NASCAR Playoffs. Creed now has three victories this season, including two of the last three coming during the Triple Truck Challenge for a total of $150,000 in bonuses. The California-born driver is getting hot at just the right time, and his wins have come on a variety of track types with Kentucky and the Daytona Road Course also on his list.
“Obviously you don’t want to get wrecked in the playoffs, but who knows, he could not, he could, it’s up to him,” Creed said. “Who knows? I’ll talk to him. He has every right to not be happy with me right now.”
Creed said he planned to reach out to Gilliland this week. We’ll see if friends can forgive and forget.