By Seth Eggert, Associate Editor
Martinsville, Va. – Sheldon Creed found trouble in paradise after late-race contact in Saturday night’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race eliminated him and his Richard Childress Racing teammate Austin Hill from the NASCAR Playoffs.
In overtime the No. 2 Whelen Chevrolet Camaro SS lined up alongside Hill at Martinsville Speedway. The duo slammed into one another as they battled for the win. Hill could make it in on points while Creed was facing must-win scenario. With two laps to go, both drivers seemed poised to make the Championship 4 until the contact.
The contact allowed Justin Allgaier to sneak into the battle. In the chaos, Hill was turned by John Hunter Nemechek exiting the final corner. Creed narrowly missed the win in a photo finish. That eliminated both drivers from the opportunity to compete for a championship.
“I felt like I played pretty nice most of the night,” Creed said. “I think I got the No. 7 up off the bottom once.Honestly, I played nice ‘til the end there and I felt like, I pushed him up off the bottom, but I didn’t dirty him up. I didn’t spin them out, and I gave him a chance to finish second. Had I gone in there and wrecked him, like Ty (Gibbs) it to Brandon (Jones) last year. Different story. So, I feel like I did what I had to do for my guys to win. They deserve that.”
The first contact between the two drivers came from Hill. After the No. 21 Global Industrial Chevrolet Camaro doored Creed in the corner, it was game on between the teammates. The hard hits caused both cars to trail smoke from tire rubs in the closing laps of the Dead On Tools 250.
The race craft of the two drivers led Andy Petree, the Vice President of Competition at Richard Childress Racing, to confront Creed post-race. The second-year driver believed that if the roles were reversed, that Hill wouldn’t be facing the same backlash, hinting at an inherent team bias, though he did admit the move ultimately was dirty.
“(Andy Petree) was just mad at how I raced to 21, but, roles reversed, they don’t say anything,” Creed said. “Probably part of the reason that I’m leaving. Obviously, they’re going to be mad. I felt like I got him up off the bottom and I gave him a chance to finish second or third, and they all just drive into him at the end, the 20 got him.
“Is it dirty or is it fair? Yeah, but here I’m watching the replay here. We’re side by side in the three. I drive up the hill. He gets me really hard in the center and then the 20 spins him there. I can’t control the 20 spinning him. He is going to be in if the 20 does not spin him out there.
“They clearly like him. He’s done a really good job and he’s won four races this year. I’m so happy to be going where I’m going. I’m proud of my guys for giving me a car capable today, to be there at the end and have a shot at that. This place always ends in just dirty racing and that so they’re all (going to) be mad. I got one more race left, and I’m going to go and leave it all on the table for my guys because they deserve that.”
Creed has just one race left with Richard Childress Racing. The Alpine, Calif. native announced several weeks ago that he would be leaving the team at season’s end. Earlier this week the team announced his replacement, Jesse Love.
Next for Creed is the NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship race at Phoenix Raceway on Saturday, November 4 at 7:00 p.m. ET on USA Network. The race will also be broadcast on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.