Sheldon Creed is no stranger to victory lane. The 21-year-old southern California native added the latest bauble to his trophy case on Friday, when he secured the ARCA Racing Series points title in the season finale Kansas ARCA 150. Creed celebrated in style, with the victory in the race itself.
Creed finished the season with four wins and 16 top-five finishes in 20 starts. It was remarkable that he was able to add to those totals at Kansas Speedway.
Creed found trouble on lap 46. He was leading when he went to pass Shawnee native Kevin Hinckle high. Hinckle clipped Creed as he passed, knocking him out of the lead. But Creed’s pit crew was able to repair the damage, and Creed was able to avoid all of the carnage that was to come.
That was far from the only incident. The race is the shortest of the weekend, only 100 laps. However, there were seven cautions in the first 78 laps. Six of the 25 cars in the field were out of the race by that point. Nine didn’t finish the race.
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The race went on to finish with eight cautions, two short of the race record set in 2006.
Creed rolled into victory lane with gray tape covering the left side of his car, the remnants of a quick fix that got him on the track.
Creed didn’t get a good look at the car until after he did the requisite victory-lane interviews and accepted the ARCA Racing Series trophy.
His reaction: “That’s unbelievable.”
Things happened in a hurry.
“I don’t even know if (Hinckle) knew I was there. That could’ve been my fault. He didn’t know I was there,” Creed said. “The guys did a great job fixing it up. I could see the left front tire from where I was sitting.”
In the immediate aftermath of Creed’s wreck, it seemed his crew did a good job to get him back out on the track close to the lead lap.
The immediate feedback wasn’t too good.
“When I was running there in eighth, ninth, 10th, it was super loose,” Creed said. “They tightened it up just enough, and it was good to go. I went pedal to the metal and just drove the wheels off of it. I didn’t think it was going to be that fast, but it was. We came here and wanted to win and got the job done.”
Creed was able to get the job done because of the misfortunes of those who led the race after him. At least three race leaders were involved in incidents after Creed.
That included Michael Self, who won the 2017 race at Kansas Speedway. He went on to finish third on Friday. Harrison Burton finished second.
Creed was swallowed by a wave of red and white confetti when he emerged victorious from his car. He had officially wrapped up the points title earlier in the day when his participation in a practice session gave him an insurmountable lead.
The win was just an exclamation point on a long, successful season. The better news: Creed’s crew has the entire offseason to get the car patched up and ready for the 2019 opener at Daytona International Speedway.
“This is up there,” Creed said. “Earlier tonight I said Iowa was maybe my coolest win. I had to drive super hard there to get position and get back up there. This one’s up there on the cool-factor rank.”