The 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season has been dominated by Toyota as a Tundra won every race entering Friday’s LiftKits4Less.com 200 at Darlington Raceway. However, a chaotic final stage knocked out much of the field, and an overtime finish saw the Chevrolet of Sheldon Creed hold off Toyota adversary Ben Rhodes to score his first victory of the year.
A Toyota front row of John Hunter Nemechek and Austin Hill started on the front row and led until the lap 16 competition caution. Codie Rohrbaugh and Kris Wright‘s wreck on lap 27 and Stewart Friesen‘s on lap 34 produced the opening stage’s two race-related yellows. Ford driver Todd Gilliland was the first non-Toyota to lead laps under green, and went on to score the stage victory ahead of Nemechek, Zane Smith, Hill, Creed, Matt Crafton, series newcomer Corey Heim, Grant Enfinger, and Tyler Ankrum.
Nemechek retook the lead to begin Stage #2 and held it until Chase Purdy and Akinori Ogata were squeezed into the wall for the caution on lap 82. While Ogata was able to return to the race, Purdy joined Norm Benning—who was parked on lap 61 for being too slow for the third time in 2021—as the stage’s retirements. The latter set up a three-lap dash to the green-checkered flag, which Nemechek and his newer tyres won ahead of Heim, Carson Hocevar, Chandler Smith, Friesen, Timmy Hill, Gilliland, Creed, Austin Hill, and Timothy Peters.
Although Peters scored his first stage points since the season opener, he spun and hit the turn four wall on lap 103 for the first caution of Stage #3. The next two wrecks increased in magnitude as Tanner Gray was turned by Ryan Truex and slid down the frontstretch, where he was impacted by a sideways Ogata and Timmy Hill.
The ensuing restart marked one of the largest Truck wrecks on a non-superspeedway when Kyle Busch Motorsports team-mates Heim and Nemechek collided as they led the field to green and stacked up everyone behind them. Seventeen drivers were either collected or suffered some type of damage in the carnage: Heim, Nemechek, Crafton, Enfinger, Hill, Peters, both Smiths, Ankrum, Danny Bohn, Dawson Cram, Bayley Currey, Spencer Davis, Hailie Deegan, Tate Fogleman, David Gilliland, and B.J. McLeod. The race was red flagged as a result, followed by twelve laps under caution for cleanup. Chandler Smith was eventually parked after scattering brake rotor pieces on the track, while Rhodes and Creed were able to dodge the chaos.
The next green flag came on lap 131, only for yet another wreck when Parker Kligerman‘s tyre went down and he slammed into Friesen. Bohn’s spin on lap 142 resulted in overtime.
A strong restart by Creed enabled him to take the lead from Rhodes, who began fighting with Hocevar for second. Shortly after Creed took the white flag, Deegan spun to end the race under yellow and Creed secured his sixth career victory. It is a strong bounce back at Darlington for Creed after dominating the 2020 race only to finish eighteenth after pitting before overtime.
Creed’s win ends Toyota’s monopoly over Victory Lane at seven races. It also locks him into the playoffs and grants him an opportunity to defend his 2020 championship. He also enjoys what is technically his third truck race victory of 2021; in April, he swept the Stadium Super Trucks weekend at St. Petersburg. In the spirit of Throwback Weekend, Creed’s #2 GMS Racing truck featured a tribute livery to the late Jason Leffler‘s #2 Ultra Motorsports vehicle in 2002; poetically, Ultra’s truck was driven by Kasey Kahne at Darlington in 2004 to his first series win, a race that also ended under caution.
As the race was the first leg of the Triple Truck Challenge, the triumph also gave Creed a $50,000 bonus that he can increase to $500,000 should he win the next two Challenge rounds at Circuit of the Americas and Charlotte Motor Speedway. He finished fifth at the latter in 2020. Although COTA is a new addition to the NASCAR schedule, Creed won the X Games Austin 2015 SST gold medal there on a mixed-surface course (which NASCAR will obviously not be using).
Rhodes finished second in a flip of the top two at the Daytona Road Course in February. Amusingly, that race was also plagued by numerous incidents that resulted in a long run time; Darlington ran for 2 hours, 28 minutes, and 40 seconds to mark the third-longest race in series history, while the Daytona RC holds the top spot by over sixteen minutes. Hocevar’s third is his best career finish, while Timmy Hill rebounded from his wreck to finish seventh. Jordan Anderson ended his day in tenth for his maiden top ten outside of a superspeedway and at his home track. Ryan Reed finished twelfth in his first start as one of Creed’s team-mates at GMS Racing, while Erik Darnell was seventeenth in his first Truck race since 2008 and return to NASCAR after an eight-year absence.
|1||15||2||Sheldon Creed||GMS Racing||Chevrolet||147||Running|
|2||4||99||Ben Rhodes||ThorSport Racing||Toyota||147||Running|
|3||14||42||Carson Hocevar||Niece Motorsports||Chevrolet||147||Running|
|4||9||88||Matt Crafton||ThorSport Racing||Toyota||147||Running|
|5||17||98||Grant Enfinger||ThorSport Racing||Toyota||147||Running|
|6||6||13||Johnny Sauter||ThorSport Racing||Toyota||147||Running|
|7||26||56||Timmy Hill||Hill Motorsports||Chevrolet||147||Running|
|8||1||4||John Hunter Nemechek||Kyle Busch Motorsports||Toyota||147||Running|
|9||12||22||Austin Wayne Self||AM Racing||Chevrolet||147||Running|
|10||31||3||Jordan Anderson||Jordan Anderson Racing||Chevrolet||147||Running|
|11||18||40||Ryan Truex||Niece Motorsports||Chevrolet||147||Running|
|12||19||24||Ryan Reed||GMS Racing||Chevrolet||147||Running|
|13||2||16||Austin Hill||Hattori Racing Enterprises||Toyota||147||Running|
|14||16||26||Tyler Ankrum||GMS Racing||Chevrolet||147||Running|
|15||5||38||Todd Gilliland||Front Row Motorsports||Ford||147||Running|
|16||3||21||Zane Smith||GMS Racing||Chevrolet||147||Running|
|17||22||45||Erik Darnell||Niece Motorsports||Chevrolet||147||Running|
|18||27||30||Danny Bohn||On Point Motorsports||Toyota||147||Running|
|19||21||25||Timothy Peters||Rackley WAR||Chevrolet||147||Running|
|20||10||1||Hailie Deegan||David Gilliland Racing||Ford||147||Running|
|21||38||44||Bayley Currey||Niece Motorsports||Chevrolet||146||Running|
|22||34||20||Spencer Boyd||Young’s Motorsports||Chevrolet||144||Running|
|23||13||51||Corey Heim||Kyle Busch Motorsports||Toyota||142||DVP|
|24||37||10||Jennifer Jo Cobb||Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing||Chevrolet||139||Overheating|
|25||7||52||Stewart Friesen||Halmar Friesen Racing||Toyota||131||DVP|
|26||36||75||Parker Kligerman||Henderson Motorsports||Chevrolet||130||Accident|
|27||8||18||Chandler Smith||Kyle Busch Motorsports||Toyota||126||Parked|
|28||35||17||David Gilliland||David Gilliland Racing||Ford||117||Accident|
|29||28||11||Spencer Davis||Spencer Davis Motorsports||Toyota||117||Accident|
|30||33||12||Tate Fogleman||Young’s Motorsports||Chevrolet||117||Accident|
|31||32||41||Dawson Cram||Cram Racing Enterprises||Chevrolet||117||Accident|
|32||39||33||B.J. McLeod||Reaume Brothers Racing||Chevrolet||117||Accident|
|33||11||15||Tanner Gray||David Gilliland Racing||Ford||110||Accident|
|34||23||34||Akinori Ogata||Reaume Brothers Racing||Toyota||110||Accident|
|35||20||19||Derek Kraus||McAnally-Hilgemann Racing||Toyota||109||Running|
|36||24||23||Chase Purdy||GMS Racing||Chevrolet||80||Accident|
|37||40||6||Norm Benning||Norm Benning Racing||Chevrolet||61||Too Slow|
|38||25||9||Codie Rohrbaugh||CR7 Motorsports||Chevrolet||26||Accident|
|39||30||02||Kris Wright||Young’s Motorsports||Chevrolet||25||Accident|
|40||29||04||Cory Roper||Roper Racing||Ford||13||Accident|
* – Ineligible for Truck points