The first seven races of Sheldon Creed’s rookie campaign in the NASCAR Xfinity Series have been a learning process.
What has the Richard Childress Racing driver gleaned so far?
He’s definitely not in the Truck Series anymore.
“It wears on you when you’re trying your hardest and running not good,” Creed told SPEED SPORT the day before the Xfinity Series race at Martinsville Speedway. “I feel like there was a few things I had to get out of the way and just learning how to race these guys and what the Xfinity car likes. Obviously, I haven’t made friends at time just racing really hard.”
Creed, 24, is racing hard because for three full-time seasons in the Truck Series with GMS Racing, that was the norm.
It paid off in 2020 when Creed claimed the Truck Series championship.
However, he’s quickly found what worked then, isn’t the way of the world now.
“Trucks, it’s expected,” Creed said. “Everyone’s gonna race really hard. Doesn’t matter where you’re at. It’s just how it is. And in Xfinity, I think they expect a little bit more respect and give and take, where I race really hard all the time. So yeah, having to adjust with that a little bit. And you don’t want to make enemies at the beginning of the season, right?”
Creed enters tonight’s Martinsville race with four top-10 finishes. His best result was sixth in the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway. But he’s coming off his second worst result in the first short track race of the season at Richmond Raceway.
“We’ve had some tough weekends,” Creed said. “I think our short-track stuff’s a little off right now. It obviously is, we ran 14th at Phoenix and like 22nd last week. That was outright, 22nd. Like we had a smooth race just got beat, straight up. So thankfully, it’s not just us, our teammate (Austin Hill) is struggling too and just need to find a little speed in the cars.”
Creed, who qualified fifth for tonight’s race, said it’s “hard to say” what RCR’s short-track program is missing.
“We’re super tight at Phoenix, and then we’re super loose at Richmond,” Creed said. “So it’ll probably take a little bit of time to probably get up to speed on the short track stuff.”
The current race weekend environment in NASCAR isn’t the best for a rookie who hasn’t “been on any of these tracks in an Xfinity car.”
“We have 20 minutes of practice. … So the first few laps are trying to get used to it and how hard you can drive it,” Creed said. “Then from there, it’s what does it need? So yeah, it’s definitely not easy. … NASCAR makes it really hard if you’re off right now. If your stuff’s good, then it’s not a big deal. But if you’re missing something or you’re trying to get comfortable, then you don’t have a lot of time to do it. And then you’re doing it in the race and you’re trying to make adjustments. It’s been difficult.”
Creed is looking forward to the month of May, though. He’ll be able to feast on his favorite form of racing: intermediates.
On May 7, the series goes to Darlington Raceway (where Creed swept the Truck Series races in 2021), before going to Texas Motor Speedway (May 21) and Charlotte Motor Speedway (May 28).
“I feel like mile-and-a-half (program) is really close,” said Creed, who finished seventh at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the only traditional race so far this year on a mile-and-a-half track. “I love mile-and-a-half racing. … More of a rough or it doesn’t even have to be rough or worn out, just a place you can run all over it. A Kansas (Speedway) is probably my favorite. It’s pretty smooth. It’s kind of wore out but you can run bottom to top and I love that about it. And not a big fan of like single lane racetracks where you’re wrapping the bottom and then it just makes it really hard.”
But before May, Creed had to get through Martinsville. In five Truck Series starts there, he has two top 10s with a best result of eighth in 2020 after leading 65 laps and getting a stage win.
“I’ve been really bad there, and I’ve been really good there,” Creed said. “Honestly, a lot of it, it depends on track position and how good your car turns. … It’s probably one of my more liked short tracks that we go to.”
You can listen to the full interview with Sheldon Creed in the embed below.