AUSTIN, Texas — Sheldon Creed made his 43rd NASCAR Xfinity Series start at Circuit of the Americas on Saturday (March 25).
His first Xfinity win have to wait until at least the 44th.
Creed’s weekend in the capitol of Texas began with promise, as he qualified fourth on Friday (March 24). He was fast right out of the gate on race day and he quickly climbed to second in the opening laps.
He finished second in stage one only to AJ Allmendinger, who had led the first 14 laps and won the pole the day prior.
Creed then took over out front as Allmendinger fell outside the top 20 with an untimely caution. Creed followed with 12 straight laps led until a caution before the end of stage two. Split pit strategy proved to be no problem, as he roared from outside the top five to the lead in one lap with new tires. He won stage two and was out front for a lap 33 restart after Custer got stuck in the gravel.
And that is when Creed’s race went awry.
Allmendinger had come from 29th to the top 10 to end stage two and he quickly made his way to second on the lap 33 restart. He and Creed were locked in an intense battle for the lead a few turns later, when contact between the two sent the No. 2 car spinning out of the lead in turn 19.
There were no cautions for the rest of the race and Creed dropped to 24th after getting his car back up to speed. With only 13 laps left, he managed to reclaim 15 spots to take the checkered flag in ninth.
When asked about the contact post-race, Creed said that he knew he had to play defense because Allmendinger and William Byron both had fast long-run cars.
“To start, I don’t know if I had [Allmendinger’s] pace in the long run,” Creed said. “Him and [Byron] were really good after a few laps. I had the lead, and I wasn’t going to get passed easy. I protected [turns] 15 and 16 and I had seen him pop out on the exit of 18, and I thought I gave him room. I haven’t seen the replay yet …
“I don’t know if he just overdrove it and drove into us, I don’t know.”
It was an unfortunate end to the day, and while Creed has three finishes worse than 20th in the first six races of the season, he has also shown top-10 and top-five speed in multiple races to start off 2023.
“Same thing, different weekend,” Creed said. “I feel like we’ve been really fast and have good runs going and then something dumb happens like that. Happy with the car, had a great Whelen Chevrolet today. Big improvement from last year. I was just happy to be fast and run up front all day, honestly.”
It wasn’t all bad on the day. Creed was pleased with the comeback to ninth and the strides that the team has made to start off the year.
“If the caution had come out, we were going to get tires and see how far we could get in two laps,” Creed said. “But to get spun when the pack’s that bunched up and come back to ninth, I was fairly happy with that.
“Honestly just need to keep building. I thought today was a good building day, I thought last week we had great speed. I feel like we’ve been building the last few weeks, so, we just need to keep doing this and we’ll get the finishes we want.”
About the author
Stephen Stumpf is the NASCAR Content Director for Frontstretch, and his weekly columns include “Stat Sheet” and “4 Burning Questions.” Stephen also writes commentary, contributes weekly to the “Bringing the Heat” podcast and is frequently at the track for on-site coverage. A native of Texas, Stephen began following NASCAR at age 9 after attending his first race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Follow on Twitter @stephen_stumpf.
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