With 20 laps to go, Sheldon Creed was fast and felt in control of the Fans With Benefits 150. Then his car drove a little loose and he did all he could to hold off a charging Chandler Smith.
Creed showed he had the fastest car on the track and his experience did the rest as he coasted to his third ARCA Racing Series win of the season at Iowa Speedway on Saturday night.
“At 20 to go, I wasn’t too nervous,” said Creed, who won the race from the pole position. “I got loose a few times and was fighting after that. I tried to use my throttle. I just tried holding on and luckily I built up a big enough of a gap.”
The 16-year-old Smith finished second and Creed’s teammates at MDM Motorsports — 18-year-old Chase Purdy and Zane Smith — were third and fourth, respectively. Joe Graf Jr. placed fifth. Zane Smith had the fastest time at practice, and Purdy was third fastest.
Chandler Smith made up a ton of ground on the final 10 laps but ran out of time to make one final move to try to get by Creed.
“I would have liked to have had a few more laps,” Chandler Smith said. “I moved my groove around to try to make up ground, but couldn’t complete it. I was trying different lines the last 10 laps and found some things that really worked. I went to the very bottom side of the track in three and four on the last lap and really closed in on him. I would have liked another chance or two to make another run at that and see what we could have done with him.”
West Des Moines native Mason Mitchell finished seventh despite starting 23rd because of an engine issue in qualifying.
Mitchell was the only driver in the field who previously won an ARCA Racing Series race at Iowa Speedway. Since the inaugural event in 2006, there have been no repeat winners and Creed continued that streak Saturday night.
“We have a lot of momentum going and we’ve got good race cars,” Creed said. “Things are going my way, and the experience I am getting each week helps, too.”
Purdy feels like his inexperience is what is keeping him from Victory Lane. He was close again but couldn’t catch his teammate. He finished in the top-five for the sixth time this season.
“Race drivers all have ups and downs, and we’re kind of on a bottom right now,” Purdy said. “We want to be over there where Sheldon is. We’re close, and that’s good. Once we get that first win out of the way we’re going to be hard to beat, just like he is. We just need a little experience. I am looking forward to going to some of these racetracks I’ve been to before so we’ll be on a little more of an even playing field.”
MDM Motorsports put five drivers in the top 10. After Creed, Purdy and Zane Smith were Harrison Burton in sixth and Sam Mayer in 10th. All five drivers started in the top 10 as well.
After Mitchell, who won the ARCA race at Iowa in 2015, were Bret Holmes in eighth and Travis Braden in ninth.
Creed was as dominant as could be on a beautiful night at Newton’s 7/8-mile track. He was not good in practice but won the pole, was the halfway leader and had the fastest lap at 129.9 miles per hour. He was the race leader for the final 39 laps and led a race-high 85 laps in all.
With the season winding down, Creed wasn’t thinking about being conservative because he has the points lead. He still tried to win the race.
“I have been thinking about points since day one. Being consistent all year is my main goal. It’s getting more important as we wind down,” said Creed, who has won three times in the past five ARCA races. “We still have to race hard and try to win. The guys want to win, and we want to win a championship. Hopefully we can do both.”
Creed unofficially leads the series points with 2,910 over Zane Smith at 2,745. Riley Herbst sits third at 2,560. Purdy is fourth at 2,455 and Braden rounds out the top five at 2,425.
“I needed 10 more laps,” Purdy said. “And with a better car, I might have had (Creed).”
Creed had to withstand five caution flags for incidents on the race track and numerous challenges from drivers throughout the field.
There were a total of 16 lead changes among seven drivers. There were a total of five caution flags for 30 laps.
Michael Self led the second-most laps on the night but finished 18th after suffering a crash on the straightaway. He started third.
Herbst started second but finished just in front of Self in 17th because of another crash. He was the race leader for four laps.
The other race leaders were Zane Smith for 16 laps, Graf Jr. for three laps and Burton and Braden for one lap each.