KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The first time Sheldon Creed raced a stock car it was on dirt and he hated it.
Creed had raced dirt bikes, progressed through quarter midgets and had landed in an off-road truck, where he found immediate success. He won the Robby Gordon Stadium Super Truck Series titles in 2015 and 2016, and it was a lot more fun dominating races than learning the ropes.
But he also knew that he wanted to race on pavement. His favorite driver growing up was Bobby Labonte because of his “cool, green Interstate (Batteries) car,” Creed said, “and reaching the pinnacle of American racing meant he would have to ditch the trucks for stock cars sooner or later.”
Once Creed committed to it, success came a whole lot sooner than later.
The 21-year-old was crowned the ARCA Series champion on Friday when he rolled off pit lane for practice ahead of the finale at Kansas Speedway. That act gave him enough points to assure Creed would win the title in his first full season in the lower-tier developmental series.
Then he capped the night by driving his race-wrecked car to victory lane.
“Just a real consistent season from the beginning. That was a lot of fun,” Creed said. “That’s where it all starts. If you have fun with what you’re doing and you’re clicking, you’re going to be fast.”
In fact, Creed only finished outside of the top 10 twice all season, running near the front in just about every race beginning with the season-opener at Daytona. He reached victory lane for the first time at Michigan, won a couple weeks later at Gateway and again at Iowa.
His season finale looked as if it would be spoiled when Creed was clipped by lapped traffic midway through Friday night’s race. But his team repaired the car enough that he could race back through the field, holding on to victory after a restart with nine laps to go.
It was that consistency in the face of adversity all season that allowed the laid-back Creed, a native of Alpine, east of San Diego, to win ARCA’s short-track challenge, its superspeedway challenge, its season-long pole award and ultimately the series title.
“I think the biggest thing for me is I wanted to win a little bit more,” Creed said, “but beggars can’t be choosers I guess. We had a lot of fun. We finished second five or six times this year, a few thirds and a ton of top-3s overall. It was just a real consistent season.”
Creed admitted he’s still learning the ropes in a stock car — he’s never had to deal with aerodynamics, for example, and the kinds of in-car adjustments he can make are limited. But he also is confident enough in himself that he’s looking ahead to next season with big expectations.
He will run the next four Truck Series races with GMS Racing, and he hopes success starting next week at Martinsville will help him put together a full-time ride for next season.
“I expect myself to win,” he said, “but just go do the best I can in that, try to learn as much as I can. I’ve never driven a truck besides (the dirt track) at Eldora. Nothing is set in stone. I’m still working on deals but (GMS Racing) is an option for sure.”
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