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Tracking the Trucks: Sheldon Creed Snags Win, $100k Bonus at Gateway

Frontstretch’s Truck Series content is presented by American Trucks

In a Nutshell: Sheldon Creed scored his third win this season when he took the checkered flag nearly a full second ahead of teammate Brett Moffitt at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway Sunday afternoon. The driver of the No. 2 Chevrolet took the lead for the final time on a lap 147 restart and never looked back en route to his second win in three races. Austin Hill, Sam Mayer and Stewart Friesen rounded out the top five.

Race Rundown:

Sheldon Creed, Todd Gilliland Tangle

Todd Gilliland simply dominated a large chunk of Sunday’s race before being taken out of the lead by the eventual winner. The driver of the No. 38 Ford started sixth and spent the first 45 laps of stage one chasing down polesitter Zane Smith, who led from the drop of the green flag. From there, Gilliland led all but one of the following 76 laps before contact with Sheldon Creed sent him into the outside wall and down pit road, off the lead lap and out of contention.

With the strongest truck out of his way, all Creed needed to do was bide his time and take advantage of part-time teammate Sam Mayer’s restart inexperience to take the lead for the final time on lap 147 before driving off into the sunset for his second win in the last three races.

One of the first things Creed did after the checkered flag flew was to apologize and own his part of the contact that took Gilliland out of contention for the win.

A clearly disappointed Gilliland simply stated that Creed “drove over his head” before talking about his disappointment in what could have been.

While I find it admirable that Creed accepted responsibility for the incident, it’s pretty easy to apologize when you’re holding the trophy and a $100,000 bonus. What Creed’s intent in making the move he did doesn’t matter at this point, and no one could blame Gilliland if he were to go out and make Creed’s life difficult in the coming weeks.

With that said, though, it’s highly unlikely that this incident is thought about for much more than a couple of days. While Creed is safely in the championship battle and has more than enough playoff points to take with him along the way, Gilliland is sitting in a precarious position with just a 12-point advantage over the playoff cut line headed into next weekend’s trip to Darlington Raceway.

Stewart Friesen’s Turn-Around Continues

For the first time since the Round of 8 last Fall, Stewart Friesen has put together a string of three straight top-10 finishes, including a fifth-place run in Sunday’s race at Gateway. The top five was just his second of 2020, the first of which came as a fourth at Texas Motor Speedway.

“It’s been tough for us with no practice,” Friesen explained after the race. “All of the guys at TRD and Toyota have been working to try to catch us up. We are still not where we need to be. Our Tundra was pretty good on the long run today. It’s a tough track to pass, but we were able to avoid some melees there at the end and get the Halmar 52 into the top-five, which is awesome. We are continuing to build some momentum.

“Obviously, we will have to win a race in the next two to try to make the playoffs. That’s our goal, but realistically, we just need to keep building the notebook so we can keep getting better and better. Hopefully, we can come into 2021, when things get back to normal, we can make a run at them.”

At this point, it’s likely too little, too late for the No. 52 team unless they’re able to pull out a little more speed to actually compete for the lead and a trip to victory lane over the next two weeks. But what’s important for Friesen is that runs like these after the season he’s had are a confidence builder, something I never thought I’d say about a driver who can go out and tear it up on almost any dirt track he faces.

And while the playoffs may be just out of reach for the No. 52 team this year, even if Friesen is on the outside looking it, he’s still got nine more races left this season to chase after the trophy and play spoiler to those racing for the championship.

Quick Hits:

  • Johnny Sauter’s awful 2020 continued when he suffered drive train issues that sent him behind the wall early in stage one. The problem turned out to be terminal and he was left to retire to a disappointing 33rd-place finish. It’s Sauter’s third DNF this season and the fifth time he’s finished outside the top 20
  • In his first Truck Series start since the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway last season, Danny Bohn quietly scored a 16th-place finish with On Point Motorsports. He was tapped to finish out the year in place of Brennan Poole, who was unable to race in the last few events because he’s running for Cup Series points.
  • After spinning his tires on the final restart from the lead, Sam Mayer scored a career-best finish of fourth. He spent 24 laps out in front of the field before a caution for contact between Austin Wayne Self and Carson Hocevar tightened up the field for one more restart. The finish beats his previous career-best of 15th, set at Dover International Speedway last weekend.
  • Sheldon Creed’s win marked the third straight trip to victory lane for GMS Racing and the fifth in the last seven races. Creed also took the win two weeks ago on the Daytona International Speedway road course and was followed up with a win by Zane Smith last weekend at Dover.

Rookie Report

2020 Rookie of the Year Candidates

Tate Fogleman – No. 02 Young’s Motorsports Chevrolet
Raphael Lessard – No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota
Spencer Davis – No. 11 Spencer Davis Motorsports Toyota
Zane Smith – No. 21 GMS Racing Chevrolet
Tanner Gray – No. 15 DGR-Crosley Ford
Christian Eckes – No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota
Derek Kraus – No. 19 McAnally-Hilgemann Racing Toyota
Ty Majeski – No. 45 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet

Number of Rookies in Race: 7

Number of Rookies finishing in the Top 10: 4; Raphael Lessard, finished sixth; Zane Smith, finished seventh; Ty Majeski, finished ninth; Tanner Gray, finished 10th

Rookie of the Race: Lessard

Points Update: With just two races remaining in the regular season, Austin Hill holds a 28-point advantage over Zane Smith. Brett Moffitt sits third, followed by Ben Rhodes. With his third win this season, Sheldon Creed moves up one spot and rounds out the top five.

Christian Eckes dropped two positions to sixth following his second DNF this season. ThorSport Racing teammates Matt Crafton and Grant Enfinger, who have a combined three wins this year, sit seventh and eighth, respectively. Tyler Ankrum and Todd Gilliland round out the top 10.

Just below the cut line, Derek Kraus sits 13 markers behind Gilliland and is the only driver with any kind of a reasonable chance to point his way into the playoffs.

Series-regular winners this season (locked into 2020 playoffs): Grant Enfinger (Daytona, Atlanta), Sheldon Creed (Kentucky, Daytona road course, Gateway), Austin Hill (Kansas 1), Matt Crafton (Kansas 2), Zane Smith (Michigan, Dover)

Tweetable:

Up Next: The Truck Series heads to Darlington Raceway for the first time since 2011 when Kasey Kahne scored his second victory at the historic track. Coverage for the South Carolina Education Lottery 200 begins at 2 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1; the race can also be heard on your local MRN affiliate or SiriusXM NASCAR Channel 90.

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