WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. — Sheldon Creed thought he had an eighth- to 10th-place car during Saturday’s Shriners Children’s 200 Xfinity Series race at Watkins Glen International. To even be in position for the victory in the waning laps was a win for the No. 2 team.
On an overtime finish that saw Sam Mayer dump Ty Gibbs in Turn 1 and also collected Austin Hill, Creed escaped with the lead and powered through the esses. But Creed was the first driver to the back half of the course and noticed oil laying on the track.
“I hit it in the carousel; that‘s what let [Mayer] get a little closer to me,” Creed said. “I hit it into [Turn] 10 and really got into it into 11, that‘s why I slid. I thought I was going to spin out at first. It‘s tough when you get the lead like that and you‘re the first one to the oil. The speed dry does a good job, usually. You usually don‘t feel it, if anything it‘s a little slick but that was straight oil.”
Creed narrowly missed hitting the outside wall in the final turn, allowing Mayer to get by for the lead. From there, he knew it would be tough to overcome the deficit, believing both cars were somewhat equal.
“I knew I was good enough to hit my marks for another lap and a half,” Creed said. “I just wasn‘t prepared to hit oil.”
For the fourth time in Creed’s Xfinity career, he finished runner-up. It was his first top-five finish since late April at Talladega Superspeedway. Dating back to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, he has consecutive top 10s for the first time since late March and early April with back-to-back weekend at Circuit of The Americas and Richmond Raceway.
Coming up just short was a tough pill to swallow for Creed, who is still looking for his first series win. This heartbreak this weekend compares to Darlington Raceway last September when he finished runner-up to Noah Gragson in an epic battle that included Kyle Larson.
“This one might hurt the worst,” Creed said. “Darlington sucked last year, but to be leading coming to the white and lose it because of oil, that‘s pretty irritating. I‘m irritated with myself but I‘m irritated with the situation. Sam did a good job.”
The good news for Creed is he padded his cushion on the elimination line, gaining five points on Parker Kligerman, who finished third and is now 22 points to the good. With a broken track bar, Riley Herbst has moved to the bubble with three races remaining in the regular season.
Up next is Daytona International Speedway where Creed’s Richard Childress Racing has won two of the last three races at. Should the No. 2 car avoid the chaos, it could serve as a track that he can get his first win at.
“Our cars are really good at the speedways,” Creed said. “The 21 and I are going to work well together and hopefully some other Chevy teammates do as well.”
Creed has a best finish of sixth in four starts at Daytona, with the other three all resulting in DNFs.