Sheldon Creed dominates at Darlington to sweep opening races in NASCAR Playoffs
By Hunter Thomas
Sheldon Creed dominated the In It To Win It 200 at Darlington Raceway on Sunday to sweep the first two races of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs. Creed entered Sunday’s race coming off a win in the opening race of the NASCAR Playoffs at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Ill. He also won the Darlington race back in May, so Creed was without a doubt a driver to watch heading into the weekend. On Sunday, Creed, the driver of the GMS Racing No. 2 Liftkits4less.com Chevrolet started on the pole and led a race high of 104 laps. Teams were betting on a caution in the closing laps, but the race went more than 30 green flag laps to the finish, a record for the series at Darlington Raceway. Creed led the final 80 laps and held John Hunter Nemechek at bay en route to his third victory of the season. “What a way to open the Playoffs, right,” Creed said. “Man, I started my day really, really loose. I was like, oh no, we’re in trouble here, but the guys worked on it. The pit crew killed it all day. I love Josh Wise for notes. I was trying to remember everything that he was telling me and where to go and what to do on restarts. This one if for the families of the 13 service members we lost last week. I just want to thank everyone for our freedom and letting us race like this.” Nemechek finished second, mathematically locking himself into the Round of 8 of the NASCAR Playoffs. The runner-up finish marked Nemechek’s 13th top-10 effort of the season. “This one hurts,” Nemechek said. “We had the dominant truck here in the spring and came back and ran second here today. On to Bristol. We should be starting first or second. Hopefully we can go get a win there. The only thing that matters is that we locked ourselves into the next round today. That’s all it is. The eyes are set on the prize. We want to win every single week, but there is a big trophy at the end of the year that means the most.” Playoff contenders, Stewart Friesen and Todd Gilliland finished third and fourth respectively. Parker Kligerman rounded out the top-five. Completing the top-10 was Grant Enfinger, Chandler Smith, Johnny Sauter, Zane Smith and Matt Crafton. Nemechek won Stage 1, and Creed swept the final two stages. Throughout the 147-lap race, there were eight cautions for 25 laps. Only two yellow flags were for multi-truck accidents. The largest accident occurred on Lap 68, when NASCAR Playoff contender, Ben Rhodes was squeezed by Jack Wood and Kris Wright while battling three-wide in Turn 4. All three trucks ran out of room and crashed, bringing out the fifth caution of the day. The second multi-truck crash came on Lap 107, when Derek Kraus and Lawless Alan crashed in Turn 4. The Round of 10 of the NASCAR Playoffs for the series will continue at Bristol Motor Speedway on Thursday, September 16. Live coverage of the UNOH 200 presented by Ohio Logistics will broadcast on FS1 at 9 p.m. ET.