Sheldon Creed is not returning to the Richard Childress Racing Whelen No. 2 Chevrolet next season in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2024, the team announced Oct. 11.
The announcement was sudden, came while Creed battles for a series title — and was worded strangely.
There was no “we wish him the best” or even a “see you later.” Just a plain announcement.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. In fact, “in the near future” tells me it’s already got a plan in place.
I have some guesses on who it could be.
After Noah Gragson‘s exit from the NASCAR Cup Series, the young driver hasn’t announced his future plans.
The question was never whether or not Gragson was talented, either. His Xfinity record can tell you that he very much is.
Where, then, could he go and compete in a Chevrolet program? As Chevy surely doesn’t want to let go of one of its best developmental drivers at this point, especially after Jimmie Johnson and co. turned heel. RCR would make as good of sense as anywhere else, and maybe more.
It’s got the speed. Creed rarely had a slow car. He just also rarely kept it out of the fence. Gragson could keep the car on track and, paired with Austin Hill, make for a ridiculously powerful 1-2 punch in the Xfinity garage.
Shane van Gisbergen
Shane van Gisbergen comes to mind as another guy who NASCAR execs and fans alike seem to be drooling over to enter the sport. After his performances this season, who could blame them, either? The Next Gen car is as close to a V8 supercar as it’s ever been, and Supercars are probably harder to drive than the Next Gen.
Now, van Gisbergen has already signed with Trackhouse Racing for next season as part of a developmental deal, but if you’ll remember, it’s not full time for any one team. He’ll be running races in all three series. That was before whatever deal Creed got was further than anything but the talking stage.
Trackhouse and RCR are under the same manufacturer, so in this scenario he would be on loan from Trackhouse — but without Trackhouse having an Xfinity team, I assume it’d be possible for van Gisbergen to run a heavy slate of races even if he didn’t run the car full time.
The Xfinity car would be much closer to a challenge for van Gisbergen than the NASCAR Cup Series car, but it’s a transition he could make. The dude is a straight-up wheel man, a guy who could hop in anything with an engine and take it for a loop with the best of the best.
Plus, when was the last time RCR had a great road racer in its Xfinity program? Would this move make RCR the most well-rounded team in the Xfinity garage, even if Kaulig Racing brings back AJ Allmendinger?
At this point, we all know NASCAR isn’t safe from a little bit of nepotism, and that could very well be the crutch that RCR uses in this hire. With Carson Hocevar replacing Ty Dillon in the Spire Motorsports No. 77 in Cup, Dillon now finds himself without a ride for next season after a disappointing 2023.
Dillon is Richard Childress‘ grandson and spent most of his career in Xfinity driving for Gramps in some way, shape or form. When Dillon last ran a full Xfinity season, though, he did have some success. Three top-five finishes in a row from 2014-2016 propelled the young Dillon into stardom. Could the fall from grace end with him right back where it all started?
There are plenty of people that are confused about the departure, but it doesn’t seem like Creed is one of them.
From that announcement, it sounds like the question of where Creed heads will be answered very soon as well.
About the author
Tanner Marlar is a staff writer for On3 Sports' Maroon and White Daily covering Mississippi State Athletics, an AP Wire reporter, an award-winning sports columnist and talk show host and master's student at Mississippi State University. Soon, Tanner will be pursuing a PhD. in Communicative Research.
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