Sheldon Creed finished second Friday night at the Daytona Road Course, but his evening was full of mixed fortunes and tempers.
Sheldon Creed won the Camping World Truck Series’ first crack at the Daytona International Speedway Road Course last August, calling his Triple Truck Challenge bonus cash-in “rad.” The second go-round on the 3.61-mile circuit was gnarly in its own mixed-fortune way, but the defending series champion still contended for victory Friday night in the BrakeBest Brake Pads 159.
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Creed led a race-high 17 of 51 laps, finishing second in his GMS Racing No. 2 Chevrolet. The only driver placing in front of him was Ben Rhodes, who claimed his second straight victory to open the season. In doing so, he stoked the flames of a developing rivalry after their late-race contact and Rhodes’ clinching pass on Lap 45 prompted testy post-race remarks between the two.
“I was actually not very happy with that,” said Creed, who finished sixth in the Daytona season opener last weekend. “I feel like I passed him for the lead really cleanly and left him room and gave him room, and he just drove into me in (Turn) 1 on the restart. I don’t know. I’ll remember that down the road when we’re racing hard again, and he might be on the other end of that deal. I don’t know. Frustrated to run second, I guess.”
Rhodes was frustrated in his own right, and his radio communications to his ThorSport Racing No. 99 team sizzled for much of the night. Rhodes chalked some of the angst to a temper he inherited from his family, but he was also irked by what he perceived as Creed’s unwillingness to share the road and some history of confrontation between their camps.
“I’m going to choose my words carefully here for Sheldon because I’m not exactly sure what he meant by that because the guy did try to run me on the straightaway off of the race track, so I don’t know exactly what he means by that,” Rhodes said. “We’re all slipping and sliding out of control in Turn 1. I mean, two times down the chute from (Turns) 3 to 4, he tried to run me off the track and then did it from (Turns) 5 to 6. And let’s not forget that at Eldora (Speedway) in 2019, the guy did door-slam me into the wall and total a truck at Eldora for seventh place.
“So, this is a win, and I didn’t total his truck out, nor did I wreck him, so I don’t know what his problem is, but he can get over it.”
Creed experienced pitfalls before the conflict with Rhodes ever materialized. His lead was threatened by a significant bump as he placed Bobby Reuse’s No. 3 Chevy a lap down on Lap 16. He also made the unusual error of dropping from first to fifth during a Stage 3 yellow flag, failing to maintain proper pace in an effort to save fuel down the stretch.
That was the downside. On the positive part of the equation, his prospects for sponsorship were looking up once Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis left word for Creed to reach out to talk about backing for his No. 2 GMS entry.
“That’s good to hear,” Creed said. “I’m gonna have to give him a call on Monday morning.”