NASCAR Race Weekend Central
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Tracking the Trucks: Sheldon Creed Punches Championship 4 Ticket With Texas Win

Frontstretch’s Truck Series content is presented by American Trucks

In a Nutshell: Amidst 10 caution flag periods, hard crashes and several angry drivers, Sheldon Creed won the SpeedyCash.com 400 at Texas Motor Speedway. It is his fourth career NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series win and the one that clinches his spot in the Championship 4.

“Today, we did an awesome job,” Creed told Fox Sports 1 after climbing victoriously from his No. 2. “I finally won in front of my mom and dad, they’re here today. We got some fans in the stands, we love you guys. Two trucks locked in for our organization, that’s awesome. Hopefully, we can get at least one or two more in next week. Hard, crazy racing today; we’ve been working for this all year. I’ve improved so much and put a lot of hard work into this. To go into Martinsville [Speedway] stress-free is so nice”

Creed won stage one and finished second stage two, leading a race-high 131 of 152 laps along the way. A late-race caution saw Creed hold off Austin Hill in an overtime finish. Rookies Zane Smith and Raphael Lessard finished third and fourth, respectively. Brett Moffitt, who secured his spot in the championship race last weekend at Kansas Speedway, rounded out the top five.

RECAP: Sheldon Creed Seals Dominating Texas Truck Series Win

Race Rundown

Caution Flags Aplenty

The Truck Series field was slowed by 10 cautions, some of which resulted in tensions between drivers. Tim Viens, Clay Greenfield and Tate Fogleman all wrecked out of the race by the end of stage one, though stage two ran caution free.

Stage three was a different story, though, with six cautions slowing the field, including the one that flew just before the checkered flag flew.

On lap 93, Grant Enfinger suffered a blown engine that he said “looks similar to what happened to us at [Las] Vegas [Motor Speedway],” forcing him into a must-win situation next weekend at Martinsville Speedway.

“We don’t know that for sure,” Enfinger told Fox Sports 1 about the blown motor. “Just blew up. Part of it, I guess. We didn’t unload with the fastest No. 98 Ford that we needed, but Jeff Hensley (his crew chief) was making it better every pit stop. I feel like, at the end of it, we might’ve had something to work with. Just wasn’t meant to be today. Onto Martinsville next week, and I look forward to the challenge.”

Ben Rhodes found himself in the thick of the cautions and was officially involved in three of the final five yellows.

The first came when he and Todd Gilliland were racing side by side. Gilliland got loose, slid up the track and slammed into the outside wall. Though Rhodes took some damage, he was able to continue.

CHEEK: Ben Rhodes Among Drivers Angry As Wrecks Mar Texas Truck Race

Later, with just five laps remaining, Rhodes appeared to turn right, wrecking Christian Eckes in a violent crash that left Eckes walking away from his No. 18 gingerly, albeit under his own power. That caution set up an overtime finish.

Then, on the white flag lap, Rhodes made contact with Josh Bilicki in a wreck that ultimately forced NASCAR to throw the caution right before Creed got to the checkered flag and the victory. FOX didn’t have a great replay, though Rhodes explained the contact actually started when Chandler Smith retaliated for his teammate’s earlier incident with Rhodes. Either way, Bilicki and team owner Josh Reaume were not at all pleased by the contact from Rhodes.

Though the contact with Eckes that set up the overtime finish looked intentional, Rhodes denied it and instead explained that he was trying to avoid a wreck, and proceeded to share some critical words about Eckes and his Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate Chandler Smith.

According to FOX Sports, it appears NASCAR will choose not to penalize Rhodes for his on-track actions. There is no official word as of press time as to whether Eckes will face any penalty for his retaliation.

In the middle of the Rhodes’ cautions, Chandler Smith spun, apparently from contact with Tanner Gray based on his radio chatter, though FOX Sports 1 didn’t have footage as to what may have led to this radio tirade.

And to make matters worse for Smith, when he left pit road after getting a few repairs and new tires, he lost one of those tires and was forced to head back down pit road again. The lost tire will likely result in a penalty when the report comes out this week.

Meanwhile, Johnny Sauter and Stewart Friesen, both of whom missed the playoffs after what could only be described as dismal seasons for the pair, decided to steal the spotlight and put on a solid race for the lead around midway through stage three. But how quickly that changed as Sauter slid up the track and took Friesen with him. Friesen didn’t finish the race, but Sauter limped to a 23rd-place finish, two laps down.

Sauter’s crew chief Joe Shear Jr. scolded his driver on the move, while Friesen made a comment over the team radio about wanting to punch Sauter.

Needless to say, next weekend at Martinsville should be a very interesting race.

Stage Points Matter

In spite of his involvement in several of the caution flag periods, Rhodes joined seven of the eight playoff drivers who scored stage points in this race. The lone exception? Ankrum.

At least one playoff driver will advance to the Championship 4 via the point standings. Crafton is the only playoff driver who has won a Truck Series race at Martinsville before. Playoff points and stage points matter.

Outside of winner Creed, Crafton and Hill scored the most points, 47. With his DNF, Enfinger scored only nine. Without any stage points, Ankrum only earned 21 points, mathematically guaranteeing his only way to make the Championship 4 is by winning Martinsville.

Quick Hits:

  • In his return to the Truck Series, James Buescher finished on the lead lap in 15th place. Carson Hocevar will reprise his role as the driver of the No. 42 for the final two races of this season as he readies for a full-time campaign next year.
  • Both DGR-Crosley drivers finished in the top 10. Dylan Lupton accrued the most spots in the 152 lap race, finishing eighth after starting 29th. Gray finished in 10th.
  • Austin Wayne Self finished seventh, his first top 10 of this season. It’s his first top-15 finish since the regular season finale at Richmond Raceway.
  • Tyler Hill missed out on his first career top 10 finish by one spot. He tied his career-best finish, previously set at Kentucky Speedway in 2019. He will become an uncle next year as his brother, and Hill Motorsports co-owner, Timmy Hill, revealed his wife Lucy is pregnant earlier this week.

Rookie Report

2020 Rookie of the Year Candidates

Tate Fogleman – No. 02 Young’s Motorsports Chevrolet

Raphael Lessard – No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota

Tanner Gray – No. 15 DGR-Crosley Ford

Christian Eckes – No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports

Derek Kraus – No. 19 McAnally-Hilgerman Racing Toyota

Zane Smith – No. 21 GMS Racing Chevrolet

Number of rookies in the SpeedyCash.com 400: 6

Rookie of the race: Chandler Smith; finished sixth.

Points Update

Moffitt and Creed have clinched their Championship 4 berths with their respective victories in the Round of 8. Austin Hill and Zane Smith sit about the cut line with just a single race remaining, with 27 and 11 point margins, respectively. Crafton is 12 points below the cut line, followed by his ThorSport teammates Enfinger and Rhodes, who are both more than 40 points out. Ankrum is the final playoff driver and finds himself 79 points below the cut line.

Eckes is ninth, followed by Gilliland in 10th. Derek Kraus continues to lead those that didn’t make the playoffs in 11th with a 98-point cushion over 12th-place Lessard. Gray, Sauter and Stewart Friesen round out the top 10.

Series-regular winners this season: Grant Enfinger (Daytona, Atlanta, Richmond), Sheldon Creed (Kentucky, Daytona road course, Gateway, Texas 2), Austin Hill (Kansas 1, Las Vegas 2), Matt Crafton (Kansas 2), Zane Smith (Michigan, Dover), Ben Rhodes (Darlington), Raphael Lessard (Talladega), Brett Moffitt (Kansas 3)

Up Next: The final race of the Round of 8 to set the championship field runs next weekend at Martinsville Speedway. Coverage for the NASCAR Hall of Fame 200 begins Friday, Oct. 30, at 8 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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About Mark Kristl

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Mark joined Frontstretch at the beginning of the 2019 NASCAR season. He is an Eagle Scout & a proud University of Dayton alum. He also writes about NASCAR for Beyond the Flag.