Sheldon Creed dominates wild playoff-opener at Gateway

Despite a late-race overtime restart and a 48-minute red flag due to a power outage at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, the 2020 Truck Series champion Sheldon Creed held onto the lead and navigated to his second win of the 2021 Truck Series season.

“My guys put together such a great truck,” Creed told Fox Sports 1 in victory lane. “My guys have been working hard all year. Obviously, we haven’t had the speed at times and I’ve made mistakes. We just built this brand new truck and I felt like we’ve taken everything we learned this year and applied it. My teammate showed me a couple of things when he got to the lead. The bottom was good on restarts, but the top started coming in there at the end. I love late-race restarts,” he joked. “I didn’t want it but thought to myself, just focus and execute.”

World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway served as the first race of the 2021 Truck Series Playoffs Friday evening. Austin Hill received the pole via the qualifying metric system.

Throughout the first stage, there were three cautions that occurred on Lap 26, 33 and 42. Most notably, the caution on Lap 26 flew for playoff contender Chandler Smith. The Kyle Busch Motorsports driver brought the No. 18 to pit road as he had a right-rear hub issue.

Creed showed his dominance early and won Stage 1, his second stage win of the season. Stewart Friesen, Ben Rhodes, Zane Smith, Ty Majeski, Todd Gilliland, Matt Crafton, Austin Hill, John Hunter Nemechek and Derek Kraus were the Top 10.

During Stage 2, on Lap 60, a power outage occurred at the track knocking out the power, including the electronic timing and scoring and brought out the red flag. This caused a delay that lasted 48 minutes and 38 seconds before the race could resume with backup power and temporary lighting.

Following the lengthy delay, the race went back green on Lap 67. Playoff drivers experienced more trouble as the race continued. Zane Smith was on pit road inside 10 laps to go in the second stage. Eventually, Smith drove the No. 21 truck behind the wall and was done for the night.

Creed once again went on to win the second stage and was followed by Rhodes, Crafton, Nemechek, Friesen, Majeski, Kraus, Ankrum Eckes and Austin Hill.

Stage 3 went green on Lap 111, but shortly thereafter, there was a huge wreck on the frontstretch. Playoff contender and regular-season champion, John Hunter Nemechek, had an issue as his truck shut off coming off Turn 4, which caused a huge stack up behind him. Multiple drivers were involved including Austin Hill, Todd Gilliland, Tyler Ankrum, Carson Hocevar, Chandler Smith and others.

Unfortunately, more problems arose for Nemechek with 32 laps to go, as the North Carolina driver had a brake rotor that broke in half. He was able to resume the race but in the 34th position.

The final stage was relatively calm in nature compared to the first two stages. However, a caution with four laps to go for the No. 15 of Tanner Gray who crashed in Turn(s) 3 and 4 brought out an overtime finish.

Creed, Rhodes, Crafton, Friesen and Sauter were in the top five for the restart.

Even with the late-race restart, there was no stopping Creed as he took the checkered flag for the seventh time of his career, and his first since Darlington earlier this year.

2019 Truck Series champion Matt Crafton finished second and earned his third top-five finish of the season and the first since Darlington as well.

“Definitely, a good points night, all in all, they knew we were here,” Crafton said about his runner-up finish to Fox Sports 1. “We drove from 10th to get to second, we just needed a little bit more since the 2 (Creed) was a little better. These guys (ThorSport) have worked hard lately. They’ve worked their butts off. Went back and threw all the notebooks away from 2019 and 2018. We went back to the old school stuff and I guess it still worked.”

There were eight cautions for 37 laps and one red flag that lasted 48 minutes and 38 seconds. There were five lead changes among three different leaders.

Race winner Creed led three times for 142 laps and gained seven playoff points and locked himself into the next round of the Playoffs.

Playoff Standings following Round 1 at Gateway:

  1. Sheldon Creed, 1 win, Advanced
  2. John Hunter Nemechek, +55
  3. Ben Rhodes, +52
  4. Matt Crafton, +33
  5. Stewart Friesen, +31
  6. Austin Hill, +21
  7. Carson Hocevar, +13
  8. Todd Gilliland, +10
    Below the cut line
  9. Zane Smith, -10
  10. Chandler Smith, -18

Official Results for the Toyota 200 at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway:

  1. Sheldon Creed, won both stages, led 142 laps
  2. Matt Crafton
  3. Ben Rhodes
  4. Stewart Friesen
  5. Johnny Sauter
  6. Chase Purdy
  7. Hailie Deegan
  8. Carson Hocevar
  9. Austin Wayne Self
  10. Jack Wood
  11. Tyler Hill
  12. Taylor Gray
  13. Ryan Truex, 1 lap down
  14. Tate Fogleman, 1 lap down
  15. Josh Berry, 1 lap down
  16. Spencer Boyd, 2 laps down
  17. Cory Roper, 2 laps down
  18. Kris Wright, 2 laps down
  19. Tanner Gray, 2 laps down
  20. Derek Kraus, 3 laps down
  21. Armani Williams, 4 laps down
  22. John Hunter Nemechek, 5 laps down
  23. Austin Hill, led two laps, 6 laps down
  24. Roger Reuse, 6 laps down
  25. Grant Enfinger, 9 laps down
  26. Derek Griffith, 9 laps down
  27. Chris Hacker, 23 laps down
  28. Chandler Smith, 40 laps down
  29. Todd Gilliland, OUT, Damage Vehicle Policy
  30. Dawson Cram, OUT, Accident
  31. Christian Eckes, OUT, Accident
  32. Tyler Ankrum, OUT, Accident
  33. Ty Majeski, OUT, Accident
  34. Jake Griffin, OUT, Accident
  35. Zane Smith, led 19 laps, OUT, Rear Gear
  36. Danny Bohn, OUT, Engine
  37. Jordan Anderson, OUT, Engine
  38. Jennifer Jo Cobb, OUT, Engine

Up Next: The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will head to Darlington Raceway Sunday, September 5, to continue their Round of 10 playoffs run, live on Fox Sports 1 and MRN Radio.



The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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