Sheldon Creed breaks Toyota stranglehold, wins chaotic LiftKits4Less 200

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.

Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images

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.

Race results

Finish Start Number Driver Team Manufacturer Laps Status
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
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for Truck points

Source link