By Dustin Albino

AUSTIN, Texas — It was almost Sheldon Creed’s breakthrough Xfinity Series win he’s much desired on Saturday at Circuit of The Americas. Then he almost didn’t finish inside the top 10.

On a restart with 14 laps remaining of the Pit Boss 250, AJ Allmendinger made contact with Creed while battling for the lead in Turn 19. The No. 2 car spun around, sliding outside of the top 20.

Went outside for the restart and Sheldon Creed spins while battling for the lead.

— Dustin Albino (@DustinAlbino) March 25, 2023

“I had the lead and I wasn‘t going to get passed easily,” Creed said following the race. “I protected [Turns] 15, 16 and then saw him pump out on the exit of 18 and I thought I gave him room.

“I don‘t know if he just overdrove it and drove into us or what. Same thing different weekend. I feel like we‘ve been really fast and have good runs going and then something dumb happens like that.”

Allmendinger, who dominated the race until he got caught in a restart incident shortly after the beginning of the second stage, was aggressive coming back through the field. He didn’t intend on getting into Creed, but believed he needed to make short work of the No. 2 car, as William Byron was in close pursuit.

“When I turned in, I thought I made a point that I was far enough alongside,” Allmendinger noted. “It‘s not what I want, and I thought I was far enough along and that I was turning in early enough. He was still turning in to make the corner and just, contact.

“He has all the right to be mad. I thought I was there, but it‘s the way it goes. It‘s not the way I wanted to take the lead.”

Creed paced the field for 16 laps in the race, which tied for the fourth-most amount of laps he’s led in a single Xfinity Series race. He won the second stage under caution to earn his first playoff point.

The No. 2 car also finished runner-up in the opening stage, earning nine additional stage points. Over the final 13 laps, Creed made a spirited charge through the field to finish ninth — his third top-10 finish of the season.

“To get spun when the pack is that bunched up and to come back to ninth, I was fairly happy with that,” Creed noted.

Dating back to Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Creed has earned 30-plus points in four consecutive races. In the prior two races of the 2023 season, he tallied 30 points total.

“We honestly just need to keep building,” he said. “I felt like today was a good building day. Last week, I thought we had great stages. We‘ve been building the last few weeks. If we can keep doing this, we‘ll get the finishes that we want.”

The series heads to Richmond Raceway next weekend where Creed finished 22nd last season.

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