RICHMOND, VIRGINIA - SEPTEMBER 10: Sheldon Creed, driver of the #2 Chevy Accessories Chevrolet, waits on the grid prior to the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond Raceway on September 10, 2020 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) | Getty Images
Jared C. Tilton | Getty Images

Why Sheldon Creed’s ‘purity’ elevates him to Gander Trucks title favorite

For Sheldon Creed, not knowing everything about how his race car works sometimes pays off. At least that’s what GMS Racing teammate Tyler Ankrum thinks.

Creed goes into the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Playoffs as a highly regarded championship favorite among his fellow postseason competitors. As a matter of fact, half of the 10-driver postseason field pointed toward Creed and/or the GMS Racing drivers as a whole when asked who’s the biggest threat for the title.

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But according to Ankrum, those accolades aren’t as much of a testament of him knowing every facet of his No. 2 Chevrolet Silverado, because that’s not the case for good reason.

“Sheldon has a dirt background, off-road trucks and he openly admits that he doesn’t know that much about the trucks,” Ankrum said. “But that guy can go out there and wheel the thing slap sideways all day and he don’t care. And I’m thinking to myself, ‘I know more than him, he openly admits he doesn’t know that much and I’m not doing as good as him right now, so what’s the difference?’”

That difference provoked 10th-seeded playoff driver Ankrum to think back to his rookie year to analyze why Creed is experiencing a high level of success. What he discovered is a mentality he’s working to get back.

“There’s a purity behind not knowing,” Ankrum. “As a rookie, there’s a purity to going to race tracks and not knowing anything about anything because the one thing you have is instinct and control of the steering wheel in your hands. If you have that, it’s the purest thing in the world. When you feel it, you feel like you’re Superman.”

The 22-year-old Creed sure is driving like a superhero as the sophomore Gander Trucks driver goes into Thursday night’s playoff opener at Bristol Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) with a four-point lead over teammate Zane Smith with three wins in the regular season.

Compared to to his rookie year last season, Creed has exemplified patience while still being unafraid to put his truck into situations others wouldn’t dare to risk, which is where that purity and instinct Ankrum noted still lives. For Creed, the growth is the product of more reps, along with the help of his trainer, Josh Wise, and GMS Racing teammate and 2018 Gander Trucks champion Brett Moffitt.

“I think the seat time, honestly,” Creed said. “Just more races, more experience and then also working with Josh Wise a lot and also Brett Moffitt was helping quite a bit. Just watching more, knowing watch to watch in film. Just tired of wrecking race trucks. It’s cool to be fast, but then when you wreck it every week it’s not. … Just putting in a lot more effort this year. I want to be here to stay.”