Sheldon Creed is the winningest driver in SPEED Energy Stadium Super Trucks history, and he spent Saturday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg adding to that amount when he kicked off the 2021 season by fending off a charge from Matt Brabham in the final corner to win his thirty-seventh career race.
Creed, the reigning NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion who returned to the stadium trucks with his main discipline having a week off, was the second-fastest qualifier behind fellow multi-time SST champ Brabham, and both drivers started at the rear. Bill Hynes and Max Gordon began Race #1 on the front row while Bo LeMastus, a former NASCAR Truck owner/driver and last-minute addition to the grid, started last.
Gordon led the race early before Robert Stout, a series newcomer running the full schedule, quickly wove through the field from his fourth-place starting position to the front and led the opening lap. Creed also sliced his way up and passed Stout for the lead a lap later.
Five of the twelve scheduled laps were wiped out by a red flag on lap two when LeMastus flipped and slid into the wall, while Jett Noland got loose and slammed into the turn 9A wall; as SST is a support to the NTT IndyCar Series, the distance was nearly halved to accommodate the day’s schedule. LeMastus and Noland would be the race’s lone retirements.
After sixteen minutes of waiting, racing resumed for one lap, which saw Creed and Stout battling for the top position before Brabham entered the mix, before the mandatory competition caution came out.
Creed and Brabham took off at the green flag on lap five while Stout and Arie Luyendyk Jr. fought for third before Robby Gordon passed Stout. The top two isolated themselves from the field as did Luyendyk and Gordon. Brabham, who won the series’ most recent St. Petersburg race in 2017, chased down Creed and made his move on the inside in turns thirteen and fourteen.
The two made contact as they entered the final straightaway, and Creed shook off Brabham’s drafting attempts to win. Brabham settled for second ahead of Luyendyk.
With his thirty-seventh SST race victory, Creed now has a twelve-race advantage over Robby Gordon in the all-time win list. He also breaks a tie with Gordon for the most SST victories at St. Petersburg with his third; the two remain the only drivers with multiple wins at the Florida street circuit.
The second race is scheduled for Sunday at 11:05 AM.
|3||6||25||Arie Luyendyk Jr.||7||Running|
Fastest qualifier (1 bonus point): Matt Brabham
Most laps led (3 bonus points): Sheldon Creed