After what seemed like an infinite wait to run the final laps of the Dead On Tools 250 at the Martinsville Speedway on Saturday, Justin Allgaier just edged Sheldon Creed for the win and a spot in the NASCAR Xfinity Series ‘Championship 4’. But there was far more to the story than that and much of that story revolved around the organization Creed drives(or drove) for.
Creed will drive in the Xfinity Series next season for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Following a multi-car wreck with less than ten laps remaining, safety crews took several minutes to clean up the mess. But once the dust had settled, Richard Childress Racing drivers Creed and Austin Hill appeared poised to make their way to the season finale at Phoenix Raceway with a chance to win a championship. Instead, both drivers found themselves eliminated from contention when the checkered flag waved.
With the two RCR Chevrolets rolling to the final restart in side-by-side formation at the front of the field with Creed requiring a win to advance while Hill had the opportunity to point his way to Phoenix. After racing each other very hard over those two circuits, Creed briefly emerged with the lead in the middle of turns three and four coming to the checkered flag only to receive a bump in the back from Hill. Allgaier moved inside of both cars and won the race to the finish line.
Creed was denied the win, and thus, a spot in the championship race. Hill, who was on the fringe of pointing his way in spun in his own water from a broken radiator, triggering a massive crash resulting in a finish of 21st. There were hard feelings and words said within the RCR camp following the race after RCR went from potentially having two cars in the Championship 4 at Phoenix to none.
While Creed was standing beside his car on pit road, he was approached by Andy Petree. RCR’s Vice President of Competition appeared to be angry with the driver of the No. 2 machine during the brief exchange.
“He was just mad at how I raced the 21,” Creed told the media of Petree’s post-race comments. “Roles reversed, he doesn’t say anything. Probably part of the reason that I’m leaving. Obviously they’re going to be mad. I feel like I got him up off the bottom and gave him a chance to finish second or third then the 20 got him.”
While speaking with media members, Creed took the time to watch the replay of the closing laps.
“I’m watching the replay here,” Creed added. “We’re side-by-side going into three, he gets me really hard in the center and the 20 spins him. I can’t control the 20 spinning him.”
Hill also expressed his frustration to the media following the race.
“I know Sheldon had to win to get in, but give me a chance,” the driver of the No. 21 Chevrolet explained. “I didn’t feel like I was given a chance then whenever he went up the race track he parked it in the center of the corner. It blew the radiator out of it(when Hill and Creed had contact) and I had no power which is why I wrecked. I cannot wait for him to get out of RCR.”
Hill admitted that he wasn’t fully aware of the points situation at the end.
“I kind of felt like I was in a position where I needed to win because if he won I thought it might possibly knock me out because I didn’t know where (Cole)Custer was. I just knew I needed to be like five spots ahead of Custer.”
There was plenty of time for crew chiefs and spotters to explain the situation to the drivers during the red flag for the cleanup following the late race crash. A little more awareness might have gotten RCR one or both cars in the Championship 4. Instead, they have none. That’s about as badly as it could have turned out for that organization.
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