CONCORD, N.C. – Sheldon Creed hasn’t had the start to the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series season that he hoped to have, particularly from a results standpoint.
The 21-year-old from Alpine, Calif., has been a master qualifier through the first seven races – boasting an average starting position of 5.4 – but only has one top-10 finish thus far to show for it.
Creed has crashed out twice and endured various other maladies, including pit road penalties and other, self-inflicted mistakes, which have taken him out of contention for solid finishes and potential victories.
His best finish of the year so far is a sixth-place run at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway back in March, a mark that Creed is desperate to improve upon during Friday night’s North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“It’s both frustrating and motivating,” Creed noted of his early-season struggles. “I’ve been working a lot with Josh Wise, just trying to get better fit and build my skillsets, with using my head to stay calm during the race and being smart in the race car. I just need to execute; that’s really been the biggest thing that’s held us back so far.
“Usually we miss one thing every week, and it throws everything off, so hopefully we can get enough things right this time out where everything else will fall into place and give us the result we deserve.”
Though he only has 14 Truck Series starts to his name, Creed has proved a quick study and has placed his name firmly among those who may well secure his first-career win sometime this season.
Of course, that’s a task that’s simple to say and tough to carry out, but Creed wants to break open the floodgates as soon as he can. He knows he has all the tools he needs to do so, as well.
“I hope once we get the first win, they’ll start coming easier, but it’s always hard to get the first one,” Creed said. “I haven’t even finished inside the top five this year, even though we’ve had really fast trucks. I just need to stop making mistakes.
“It helps and gives me confidence that we’ve shown up to the race track every week with really fast trucks; we just struggled at the start of the season,” he added. “An uncontrolled tire set us back at Kansas and I put it in the fence trying to come back through the field. It’s just little mistakes on my part, and I’ve got a little bit of time to figure it out … but it’s like college. You have to get it right pretty quick.
“We’re obviously fast; we just have to get it dialed in and turn this ship in the right direction.”
Creed, who was mentored by spotter and driver-development guru Lorin Ranier as he transitioned to NASCAR, is always quick to note that he’s still relatively new to the stock car racing world and has many things he still needs to figure out after starting his career in off-road racing on the West Coast.
“Keeping open ears is critical,” Creed pointed out. “I think a lot of us kids think we know it all already, when in reality there’s still a lot to learn. That’s been the biggest thing for me. I’ve just been trying not to be stubborn and go in with open ears all the time, knowing there’s something I can learn from it.”
Creed set the fastest overall time Friday between the two Truck Series practice sessions that were held at Charlotte, turning a best lap of 29.742 seconds (181.561 mph) with his No. 2 Chevrolet Accessories Silverado.
That has him smiling about his chances of finally getting onto the right foot come race time.
“I feel confident going into tonight,” Creed said. “We were pretty decent in practice, and at least when we mocked up we had really solid speed and went to the top (of the scoring pylon), so I think we’ll be alright. I think this is the best we’ve been in dirty air and in traffic, as well.
“Overall, I feel like my guys have brought another fast Chevy Silverado, and we just have to try and not screw it up this time.”