After a quiet first two stages, a late-race caution gave Sheldon Creed the opportunity to drive from eighth place to the front and take the lead to win the Truck Series championship.
“I can’t believe it, thank you so much,” the 23-year-old Californian, Creed, screamed into his team radio as he crossed the finish line. “The caution came out and we were like, ‘we’ve got nothing to lose’,” Creed said of the decision to pit for tires. “I pride myself on my restarts week in and week out and just nailed the restart right there. I was just driving as hard as I can, I wanted this thing so bad.”
Stages 45-45-60 laps made up the scheduled 150 lap race, but an overtime restart extended the race to 156 laps. No Trucks were sent to the rear and Championship 4 driver Grant Enfinger was on the pole based on the metric system. Brett Moffit, Zane Smith, Grant Enfinger and Sheldon Creed made up the Championship 4 contenders.
Stage 1: Laps 1 – 45
Early on in the stage, rookie Zane Smith had the lead over teammates Creed and Moffitt with no challenge from either driver until late in the stage. Surprisingly, no cautions fell in the stage and with a dominant truck, Zane Smith grabbed the stage victory with Creed in second, Moffitt third and Enfinger fourth.
After the stage break, it was Creed who would win the race off pit road and maintain his top position.
Stage 2: Laps 53 – 90
Stage 2 was a carbon copy of the first stage with 8 green-flag laps of racing with no yellows in sight. However, multiple battles for the lead would pursue in the middle of this stage. Creed led from laps 50 – 74 for 25 total laps. His teammate Brett Moffitt came into the picture and made a pass on Lap 75 with just 19 laps to go in the stage. After making the pass for the lead, the Iowan native held on and took home the Stage 2 win. Zane Smith finished second, Creed was third and Enfinger managed fifth.
Under the yellow, Niece Motorsports driver Trevor Bayne was penalized for being too fast on pit road and Moffitt held on to the lead.
Stage 3: Laps 98 – 156
With Enfinger battling a tight truck, GMS Racing made up the top three spots. However, their effort was slowed at Lap 104 when a caution flew for the No. 42 of Carson Hocevar who backed his Niece Motorsports Chevrolet into the Turn 2 wall. In the middle of the caution cycle, Enfinger came down to pit road and took four tires to help with the handling of the truck. Meanwhile, the No. 19 of Derek Kraus stalled, having no power in his Toyota Tundra.
When the green flag flew again at Lap 119, Enfinger made the most of his pit stop by climbing to fifth in the running order. However, the four-tire call for Enfinger wouldn’t come into play until late in the race. The Alabaman started making moves with 19 to go, passing Smith for fourth and moving up as high as second with 12 to go.
As the race started to wind down, race leader Moffitt held off Enfinger with a 4.340-second advantage. Getting closer to the checkered flag, the race looked as though it would go to the 2018 Truck Series Champion, Moffitt. Unfortunately for Moffitt, a late yellow flew for the No. 41 of Dawson Cram, setting up an overtime restart with seven laps to go.
The caution would prove costly for Moffitt, as Champ 4 drivers Creed and Zane Smith came to pit road and took four fresh tires. Moffitt and Enfinger stayed out to assume the lead with hopes of holding off the field for a classic finish.
The restart on Lap 154 with 2 laps to go would look like this for the championship drivers; Moffitt was in first, Enfinger was second, Creed restarted in eighth with Smith in ninth.
Following the green flag, Enfinger, on the outside, spun his tires and both Creed and Smith made dive bomb moves to the bottom of the track in Turns 1 and 2. Moffitt ended up sliding up the track and falling back in the running order. As the checkered flag flew, the victory and championship went to Creed who won his fifth race of the 2020 season.
Zane Smith finished second with Moffitt 10th and Enfinger rounding out the Championship 4 in 13th position.
After leading the most laps (78) and winning Stage 2, Moffitt was understandably disappointed after finishing 10th.
“It’s frustrating losing like that,” Moffitt said. “It would have been an honor to win with this paint scheme in honor of (seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion) Jimmie Johnson,” said Moffitt, adding, “I guess if broken legs isn’t enough of a handicap, race strategy is.”
There were four cautions for 28 laps and seven lead changes among five different drivers.
Items to note – Chevrolet won the Truck Series Manufacturers Championship, while GMS Racing’s Maury Gallagher won his first ever Truck Series Owners title. Champion Sheldon Creed ends the season with the most stage victories of 11, while he and Austin Hill end up in a tie with the most playoff points of 28 each.
Final Championship 4 Standings
- Sheldon Creed
- Zane Smith
- Brett Moffitt
- Grant Enfinger
Final Championship 4 Owner Standings
- GMS Racing No. 2
- GMS Racing No. 21
- GMS Racing No. 23
- ThorSport Racing No. 98
Official Results following the Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International Raceway.
- Sheldon Creed, led twice for 27 laps
- Zane Smith
- Chandler Smith
- Christian Eckes
- Raphael Lessard
- Stewart Friesen
- Ben Rhodes
- Tyler Ankrum
- Todd Gilliland
- Brett Moffitt, won Stage 2, led 78 laps
- Johnny Sauter
- Austin Hill
- Grant Enfinger, led two laps
- Matt Crafton
- Tanner Gray
- Dylan Lupton
- Sam Mayer
- Trevor Bayne
- Tate Fogleman
- Austin Wayne Self
- Ryan Truex, 1 lap down
- Jordan Anderson, 2 laps down
- Spencer Davis, 2 laps down
- Derek Kraus, 3 laps down
- Tyler Hill, 3 laps down
- Danny Bohn, 3 laps down
- Spencer Boyd, 4 laps down
- Dawson Cram, 4 laps down
- Robby Lyons, 4 laps down
- Akinori Ogata, 6 laps down
- Jennifer Jo Cobb, 9 laps down
- Carson Hocevar, OUT, Accident
- Josh Reaume, OUT, Brakes
Up Next: The NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series will now enjoy their much deserved offseason and start focusing on the 2021 schedule. The 2021 Truck Series season begins Friday night, Feb. 12 at Daytona International Speedway with the annual NextEra Energy Resources 250.