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DAVIDSON: Creed emerges as the truck winner at Darlington

Darlington, SC, May 7/21 (by John Davidson): Sheldon Creed outlasted the Lady in Black at Darlington, winning the Liftkits4less.com 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race over Ben Rhodes and rookie Carson Hocevar in a green-white-checker finish that ended under caution for a spin on the final lap.

Cory Roper had the first 'Darlington Stripe' of the evening with a blown right front tire but no caution flew immediately. Then on lap 15, the competition caution came out and just about every truck on the track pitted for tires and fuel. Ryan Truex and Bayley Currey both stayed out to take the top two positions for Niece Motorsports, while Todd Gilliland and Grant Enfinger both took only two tires, moving up to third and fourth at the restart. Ben Rhodes and Austin Hill were the top restarters who took fuel and four tires.

The first caution for an incident flew on lap 25 for contact between Codie Rohrbaugh and Kris Wright. The green session lasted only a couple of turns before Stewart Friesen and Carson Hocevar got together with Friesen spinning but not hitting anything.

Todd Gilliand led the last 13 laps of the first stage for his first stage win, ahead of John Hunter Nemechek, Zane Smith, Austin Hill and Sheldon Creed.

After his earlier spin, Stewart Friesen started in the lead after not pitting during the caution. Gilliland and then Nemechek both got around in less than a lap, as Friesen's ten-lap-older tires showed the advantage of newer tires.

The Turn Four contact between Chase Purdy and Akinori Ogata brought out a caution that nearly ended the second stage, but the green came out with three laps left, John Hunter Nemechek easily getting around trucks that stayed on the track during the caution for the stage win.

Tanner Gray spun, collecting Timmy Hill and Ogata. Hill managed to drive away but the other two got towed in.

On the restart, with pushes gone bad from behind them, the two front row trucks got together, taking out two KBM trucks – John Hunter Nemechek and Corey Heim – and a gaggle of others, with over half the front rows involved. After a red flag for the cleanup, the race resumed with Ben Rhodes and Stewart Friesen at the front. Rhodes chose the outside, along with Friesen, giving Johnny Sauter the inside front row next to his fellow ThorSport racer. But another caution flew in less than a lap when Friesen and Parker Kligerman crashed after Kligerman's right front tire went down and he hit Friesen, sending them both into a spin in the second turn and setting up another restart. Heading into this restart, Rhodes went to the top row, followed by Sauter, giving Sheldon Creed the inside row at the green with eight laps left in the race.

Creed managed to get the lead from Rhodes, but Danny Bohn spun to bring out a record-setting twelfth caution. The yellow flag period was short, heading to the lane choice for the restart. Creed chose the outside with Rhodes the inside, followed by his teammate Sauter, approaching the green flag with two laps left in the race's scheduled distance.

Rhodes got loose on the restart, challenging for the lead, letting Creed open up a gap and taking the white flag just before Hailie Deegan spun, bringing out another caution and ending the race under yellow, giving Creed his sixth truck victory and first of the 2021 season in the No. 2 Chevy carrying a Jason Leffler throwback paint scheme. Rhodes recovered from his slip to finish second, with Hocevar third as the top rookie, followed by Matt Crafton in fourth and Johnny Sauter fifth.

• Click HERE for the Race Results

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