INDIANAPOLIS – Sheldon Creed was honored as the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards champion at the series’ annual Awards Banquet in Indianapolis on Saturday night.
Creed, from Alpine, Calif., scored the championship in his first full season of competition in the ARCA Racing Series. He had 17 ARCA starts prior to 2018, with a handful of top-five finishes. He teamed with MDM Motorsports for a full season run in and found success right from the start.
Creed finished in the top five in each of the first four races of the season, and found victory lane for the first time at Michigan Int’l Speedway, the eighth race of the season. He followed that with mid-season wins at Gateway Motorsports Park and Iowa Speedway, and then clinched the championship with a dominant performance in the season finale at Kansas Speedway, his fourth win of the year.
Creed thanked his team for their efforts on stage, and presented each of them with a pair of custom Vans footwear, which they all wore for a photo op with the championship trophy.
“It was a great year for all of us at MDM Motorsports,” said Creed, who has already announced plans to move to the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series next season. “I’d like to thank everyone involved in our season. My team owners Matthew Miller, Doug Fuller, and Mark McFarland, my crew chief Jeff Stankiewicz, and all of my crew guys put together a great team. I’d like to thank my family for their support, not only this year but from the very start. Thanks to United Rentals and A.M. Ortega Construction for all they have done.
“I am a pretty competitive person. I will always remember the 2018 season for the wins we had, and the things we learned on the way and all of the good times we had together as a team.”
Creed and the MDM Motorsports team took away the lion’s share of the special awards presented on Saturday night. In addition to the series championship, Creed also won the General Tire Superspeedway Challenge, the General Tire Pole Award, the Sioux Chief Short Track Challenge, the S&S Volvo Laps Completed Award, and crew chief Jeff Stankiewicz earned the Cometic Crew Chief of the Year Award.
“I am so proud of the team we built and the accomplishments we had this year,” Stankiewicz said. “It’s a pretty amazing feat to build a team around a young driver without a lot of experience and do what we did this year. It was an honor to be on stage again celebrating another championship with Sheldon and these guys.”
Team owner Matthew Miller accepted the owner’s championship on behalf of MDM Motorsports, which is co-owned by Fuller and McFarland.
“I know I am not a familiar face to a lot of you here tonight,” Miller said, “but it has been a real honor to race with you all this season. Everyone at ARCA has been wonderful to work with and compete against. We’re proud of Sheldon and everything this team accomplished in 2018.”
Additionally, MDM Motorsports earned the Scott Rookie of the Year Award and the CGS Imaging 4 Crown Championship with Zane Smith. Smith, from Huntington Beach, California, finished second in the series standings on the strength of four victories, including the closest finish in series history when he defeated Joe Graf Jr. at Talladega Superspeedway.
“It’s no fun being the first loser,” Smith said in reference to his second-place finish in the final standings, “but it’s a great accomplishment to be named the Scott Rookie of the Year. A lot of great drivers have won that award over the years and it’s an honor to add my name to the list. I’d like to dedicate tonight to Jerry Herbst. He meant a lot to me and my family and I wouldn’t be here without the help he had given me over the years.”
Other drivers who made appearances on stage included third-place Riley Herbst, fifth-place Travis Braden, sixth-place Gus Dean, seventh-place Natalie Decker, eighth-place Graf, ninth-place Brad Smith and 10th-place Bret Holmes.
Owners that were honored on stage, in addition to champion Miller, included Bill Venturini, Coy Gibbs, McFarland, Billy Venturini, Don Fike, Chad Bryant, Kevin Cywinski Cathy Venturini.
Darrell Basham, who made his ARCA Racing Series debut in 1973, was presented the General Tire Spirit Award along with his wife Sandy and son Mike. Darrel Basham made 319 starts as a driver, including four this year, with a best finish of 14th at Iowa. Mike Basham has 59 career starts, including 15 this season.
“I can’t tell you all what this means to me,” an emotional Basham said to the crowd. “Mike, I am so proud of you, and Sandy, the best spotter in the business, I wouldn’t be here without you. I don’t know what we’re going to do yet next year, but I ran my first ARCA race in 1972. It’s a part of our life and it has been for 46 years. Hopefully we’ll find a way to be back, but if we can’t be, it’s been a great ride and something we’re going to be proud of forever.”
Series president Ron Drager presented the Marcum Award to Andy Hillenburg. The award, named for ARCA founders John and Mildred Marcum, has been presented every year since 1982 to an individual who has made positive contributions and has shown dedication to ARCA. Past recipients include Bill Kimmel, Sr., Bill and Cathy Venturini, Briggs Cunningham and Kerry Scherer, John Menard, and in 2017, long-time ARCA team owner Wayne Hixson.
“Ron, you have no idea what this means to me,” Hillenburg said as he choked back tears at the podium. “To win this award in the last season that ARCA is owned by the Marcum family is a huge honor. You’re a great friend to me and to the sport. Thank you to you and your family for giving us a great series to race in for all these years.”