Unfortunately for Sheldon Creed, Friday night’s NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Trucks Series Playoff race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway proved the fastest truck doesn’t always end up in Victory Lane.
Creed swept the first two stages and led a race-high 89 of the 134-lap World of Westgate 200 at the 1.5-mile Nevada oval, but the final 39 laps proved to be his kryptonite after efforts to battle race winner Austin Hill fell short.
“My race truck I feel was so dominating, to not win with it, it hurts,” Creed said after the race. “Then again, hats off to my guys. They built an incredible truck tonight. That was one of the best race trucks I’ve ever had. I could and I could go anywhere with it.”
Hill led the final 39 circuits to earn his second race win of the 2020 season and advance to the Round of 8 of the postseason, while Creed, a three-time winner, had to settle for his first second-place finish of the year.
Creed tried to get close enough to Hill in the closing laps to potentially make a run. The No. 2 GMS Racing driver could see Hill’s No. 16 Hattori Racing Toyota getting freer in the corners, but he couldn’t get close enough to take the air off Hill’s rear bumper to take advantage.
“Just frustrating, honestly,” Creed said. “Just a way faster truck than him (Hill). Probably showed my hand too early there running the middle of (turns) three and four. I realized how fast that was and just kept going up and that was better and better. I don’t know if it was just getting on clean asphalt or getting away from the rubber, just had more grip, which made it a lot of fun. Just couldn’t do anything.”
Creed slid into the outside wall in Turn 1 with 11 laps remaining to seal his fate, but he wasn’t going to concede the victory until the checkered flag fell.
“I had hope still, I mean I don’t give up until the end,” Creed said. “I could see him kind of getting free, I was just hoping he was going to get freer as we ran. … I know if I could get next to him, I had a good shot at clearing him. That was the hope there, but when he’s blocking the air like that, there’s not much you can do.”
Creed has a 52-point cushion over ninth-place driver Ben Rhodes in the points standings heading into next Saturday’s Round of 10 elimination race at Talladega Superspeedway (1 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). But he remains optimistic in the team’s ability to win there, as well as Kansas Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway — tracks coming up in the Round of 8.
“I mean that hurts, but then again confident going into Talladega. Confident going into Texas and Kansas with our mile-and-a-half program. Hopefully, we can get a win there.”