Race Weekend Central

Sheldon Creed: ‘I Need To Win To Move Up’

Following the tremendous amount of success he enjoyed in the Craftsman Truck Series, many were eager to see what Sheldon Creed could do in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition.

After all, the X Games gold medalist amassed eight wins and a championship over the 2020 and 2021 Truck seasons before moving up to NXS last year.

To add to the hype, Creed stepped into Richard Childress Racing’s No. 2 car, which has been one of the most dominant cars in Xfinity for more than two decades. Of RCR’s five NXS championships, three of them have come from the No. 2 team, with Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer and Tyler Reddick all claiming titles. 31 of the team’s 91 Xfinity wins came via the No. 2 car.

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But Creed largely underwhelmed in his first year in NXS. He missed the playoffs and only posted four top fives and 13 top 10s. His RCR teammate Austin Hill, meanwhile, had two wins, 11 top fives and 21 top 10s while finishing sixth in points.

“I had to kind of step up my program a little bit,” Creed told Frontstretch. “I feel like, [in] Trucks, I got a good hold of it and I feel like my race craft was pretty decent and we were just really fast all the time. So that makes things a lot easier. And then we came to Xfinity, and everyone’s a lot smarter and the race is different, the car is different.

“I just had to do better with my homework at home, and I come to the track more prepared and I think I’ve stepped that up this year, and that’s kind of shown a little bit.”

Nine races into 2023, Creed has been much more competitive. He already has half the top fives he had last year, including a runner-up this past weekend at Talladega Superspeedway. He’s on pace to score more top 10s and lead more laps, and his average finishing position is nearly three positions higher.

“Yeah, we’re certainly a lot faster,” Creed said. “I think the new rear rules package has helped us, brought us closer to the game. A lot less rear grip in the cars, they’re a little more difficult to drive.”

Less grip and more difficult to drive are features that fall right into the wheelhouse of a driver who was a two-time champion in Robby Gordon’s Stadium Super Trucks.

“[…] I think we’re off to a decent start,” Creed said. “I didn’t have a great Daytona, got turned in stage 2. Had a really good car at Fontana [Auto Club Speedway], was down a set of tires at the end. [At Las Vegas Motor Speedway], had a really smooth day and just ran ninth, but a really fast car. And then Phoenix, great day, run third.

“[…] I mean, we’ve had an up-and-down start, but our speed is certainly much faster.”

Even though Creed’s finishes have been better this year, they still don’t reflect how much more competitive he’s been. Arguably Creed’s best performance of the year so far came at Circuit of the Americas. He won stage 2 in that race and was leading until Kaulig Racing’s AJ Allmendinger spun him out.

“I mean, he’ll get his when he comes back,” Creed said of Allmendinger. “But, yeah, I never heard from him or anyone from Kaulig. I don’t know. He’ll come back and race with us, and I’ll have my way with him.”

Creed still recovered to finish ninth and scored more points than any other driver that day.

Two weeks ago at Martinsville Speedway, Creed was inside the top 10 on the last lap when contact between Chandler Smith (another Kaulig driver) and Ryan Truex resulted in the No. 2 car getting spun. That incident led to Creed saying that “the Kaulig cars have zero respect. None of them do,” despite the team being on RCR’s campus and using RCR equipment.

Had Creed held onto that Martinsville top 10, he’d have four consecutive top 10s. Despite Creed’s improved speed and results, he still hasn’t matched the finishes of teammate Hill, who already has three wins this year and leads the Xfinity points standings.

“I mean, yeah, we honestly have like, very similar pace every week if you break everything down,” Creed said of Hill. “Yeah, he has had things go really well for him, and it’s crazy how much it matters when you can start in the first three rows on a restart and you start 10th-15th on a restart with the same car. Just the one that starts up front, it’s always gonna be better usually.

“But yeah, we talk a lot, we share ideas and what we think. He’s been a really fun teammate to have the last, I guess we’re a year and a half in now. He’s been a lot of fun to work with.”

Hill has already gotten a part-time NASCAR Cup Series ride with Beard Motorsports and seems poised to make the full-time jump to the top level in the coming years. Creed refuted that it’s a make-or-break year for himself, but he knows he has to start winning soon if he is going to find his own path to Cup.

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“I mean, not winning is certainly not helping,” Creed said. “No, I’m certainly being watched. Myself included, I expected way more out of this last year, but we just rode the struggle bus. So, yeah, need to win. I mean, that’s the bottom line. I need to win to move up.

“But I don’t think it’s my last year. I think I probably have two years. I mean, Noah [Gragson] did four years in Xfinity and was pretty good in his second and third year and then had like a breakout last year. So I am almost 26 [years old] now too, so I need to figure it out. But, no, I think I have time still.

“[…] I think it just depends on timing too. Like are seats opening up? If a big Cup team’s got a — if someone’s retiring, are they going to grab someone from Xfinity or Trucks or are they going to grab someone that’s already in Cup that’s maybe in a lesser car? So I just need to be winning at the right time, and the right person needs to like you and have a good sponsor to go with you.”

The good news for Creed is that he has a few good tracks coming up for him on the schedule. Last year, he scored a top 10 at Dover Motor Speedway. If he’s getting better at each track this year, then he could be a real contender there.

And then there’s Darlington Raceway, where Creed came the closest to grabbing his first career Xfinity win last fall. He led a career-high 47 laps in that race and was leading coming to the white flag before contact between he and Kyle Larson resulted in a flat tire. He tried the wall ride in the final corners, but could only hold on for second place.

But for Creed, it doesn’t matter which track is next or his history at any of them. When asked which track was his best shot to get his first win, he replied, “All of them.”

“Every weekend we don’t win, the next weekend is our best shot to get it,” Creed said.

Watch the video below for the full interview with Sheldon Creed.

About the author

Michael.massie 113x150

Michael Massie joined Frontstretch in 2017 and has served as the Content Director since 2020. Massie, a Richmond, Va., native, has covered NASCAR, IndyCar, SRX and the CARS Tour. Outside of motorsports, the Virginia Tech grad and Green Bay Packers minority owner can be seen cheering on his beloved Hokies and Packers.

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