Short track racing has a tendency to usher in short tempers. Saturday night’s Xfinity race at Martinsville reminded us of this fact as we got to see two teammates butt heads during some last lap beatin’ and bangin’ which ultimately saw both drivers be eliminated from the 2023 NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs.
As heated as that final lap at Martinsville was, where things really boiled over was in the media after the race. So, what exactly happened? Who said what? Why are the tensions so high? We here at the Daily Downforce are about to break all that down for you. Check it out.
Before we get into the actual on-track contact, let’s talk about the points situation heading into that final lap at Martinsville. The driver of the No. 2 Wheelen car at Richard Childress Racing, Sheldon Creed, was in a must-win situation in order to advance to the Championship Round at Phoenix next week. Therefore, Creed was racing very aggressively.
As said by NASCAR’s Xfinity Series page on X (formally Twitter), Sheldon Creed was using every inch of real estate he could in order to advance his position. And it nearly worked out.
The No. 21 and No. 2 cars for RCR were in contention for a lion-share of the day. As the laps wound down, Austin Hill found himself sliding into the lead in what he most likely thought was an ideal scenario with his teammate Sheldon Creed through to second. Ideally, the race would finish out under green and the two RCR teammates could settle the win amongst themselves.
But, as we all know, that’s a very unlikely finish in Playoff era NASCAR as with 7-laps to go, a multi-car pileup would bring out the final caution of the race, bunching the field back up.
Once the race restarted, the No. 21 and No. 2 cars of Hill and Creed found themselves once again ahead of the pack with the No. 7 of Justin Allgaier following in hot pursuit. Creed being in must-win territory gave his teammate a bump heading into the turn-1 as the white flag flew. This sent the 21 stumbling up the track, giving Creed the bottom.
Heading into turn-3, Hill Seemingly came down on Creed as the No. 2 driver over-drove the corner. This started a chain of events in which both RCR cars ran up the track, opening the door for Allgaier and the Hellmann’s No. 7 Chevy. Hill was pinched out of position and, by rewatching the replay, was hit and spun by John Hunter Nemechek causing a massive pileup on the frontstretch.
Creed and Allgaier drag raced to the line which saw Allgaier come out on top and both RCR drivers eliminated from the Championship.
Comments from RCR Management
Needless to say, the management team at Richard Childress Racing was not too happy with Sheldon Creed following Saturday’s race at Martinsville. Former crew chief and team executive, Andy Petree approached Creed after the race, shouting and angrily chewing the driver out, as shown in the clip provided by Toby Christie on Twitter.
NASCAR journalist, Noah Lewis caught up to team owner Richard Childress and asked him about the incident. In his response, he calls Creed the “stupidest” driver to ever drive for RCR.
Sheldon Creed will not be returning to the No. 2 car for RCR next year. Rather, the car will be piloted by 2023 ARCA Champ, Jesse Love.
There are some murmurs online hinting that Childress may not provide Creed with a car for the season finale at Phoenix. While this is likely a baseless rumor, stranger things have happened in RCR’s past.
What Austin Hill Said
After being released from the infield care center following his last-lap crash, a very frustrated Austin Hill spoke with PRN. During this post-incident interview, he calls his soon-to-be former teammate, Sheldon Creed” dumb for “parking it” in the corner. This resulted in Hill running into the back of Creed and seemingly blowing out his radiator. This was before being turned by Nemechek coming to the line which sparked the last-lap pileup.
When talking to Noah Lewis, Austin Hill exclaims that he cannot wait for Creed to be out of an RCR car, praising future teammate Jesse Love in the process. He said that he hopes Love will race him with a little more respect. Also during this clip, Hill may have leaked Creed’s 2024 which has not been officially announced by the driver.
Sheldon Creed Reacts
Peter Stratta caught up with Creed immediately after Andy Petree confronted him. When asked about what Petree said, without giving specifics, Creed answers that he was just upset about how he raced the 21.
Creed also points out that if the roles were reversed, Petree and Richard Childress wouldn’t be nearly as mad. Does this hint at favoritism behind the scenes at RCR?
After hearing Austin Hill’s comments, Creed says that he has enjoyed racing with Hill and states that he has been good for the RCR Xfinity Series program. He also states that he is excited to be going where he is going.
During Hill’s interview, Hill alluded to the possibility of Creed heading for Joe Gibbs Racing. Could we see Creed in a No. 18 or 20 JGR ride in 2024?
Toxicity At RCR?
Ever since Richard Childress Racing expanded into a multi-car team in the mid-to-late 1990s, they have been accused of wearing their favoritism on their sleeve. In the ’90s and during the 2000 season, the number 1 guy at RCR was the legendary Dale Earnhardt while Mike Skinner in the No. 31 was often seen as the “B” team. Earnhardt notoriously disliked the idea of having a teammate and was determined to beat the No. 31 team throughout the rest of his career.
Skinner sat down with former NASCAR driver David Starr’s podcast, Let’s Go Racing to shed some light on the issues between himself in the Man in Black. You can see a short snippet of that conversation in the video below.
After Dale’s passing at the end of the 2001 Daytona 500, the new core driver at the center of the organization was Kevin Harvick and he would remain RCR’s No. 1 guy until his departure from the team in 2013. At the time, that was perhaps the nastiest breakup in company history for RCR.
After a truck race that saw Harvick tangle with Childress’s youngest grandson Ty Dillon, Harvick said that the Dillon brothers were the exact reason he was leaving the organization.
Even as recently as 2022, Richard Childress voiced his displeasure with the departure of Tyler Reddick who signed a deal with 23XI for the 2024 season. Reddick still had a year left under contract with RCR. When the news came out, Richard quickly started looking for a replacement to drive the No. 8 and he somehow was able to land Wild Thang, Kyle “Rowdy” Busch. The initial plan was to keep Reddick in a third unchartered car for the year until 23XI bought him out of his contract.
When the announcement was made that Busch would be taking over the 8, Richard Childress informed Reddick of the change only an hour beforehand. This was Reddick’s response.
Around The Garage
Following the race, Austin Hill strolled down pit lane to the No. 2 pit stall where he sarcastically gave them a slow round of applause. One angle of this incident was provided by Frontstretch Media.
NASCAR journalist, Dustin Albino gave us this other angle. Here you can see the very unhappy crew members of the No. 2 Wheelen team.
After seeing Hill’s applause, Creed’s crew chief got into a heated conversation with a member of RCR team management. The conversation didn’t go over too well as you can see in the clip below, Jeff Stankiewicz removed his Wheelen crew shirt and stormed off.
He will not return to RCR next year. Instead, Danny Stockman Jr. will be atop the pit box for new driver Jesse Love.
Former RCR driver and generational talent, Robby Gordon, helped Creed land the ride at RCR. Watching a replay of the incident, Gordon provided his commentary in the video below. To sum it up, he points the finger at RCR management and Austin Hill, stating that if Hill had just let Creed win, they’d both be in the Championship 4 at Phoenix with a 50% chance of walking away with the title.
The eventual winner, Justin Allgaier, had this to say. He says that both Creed and Hill are extremely respectful drivers but he did secretly hope that they’d get together to give him an opportunity to win. That was exactly what happened.
Part-time Xfinity Series driver and team owner for the winning Justin Allgaier had this to say after the race.
In The Stands
Fans largely came down on the side of Sheldon Creed following the incident. Brendan Keeler on Twitter posted this rather funny picture.
CRJ gets in on the accusations of favoritism within RCR. It’s plain as day, really, and they just hope that Jesse Love doesn’t get held back by RCR’s #1 Xfinity guy.
LionManatic2048 is worshiping the chaos old-fashioned short track racing is all about! They find it funny that due to bullheadedness, both RCR cars missed the Championship 4. They then give a shoutout to JRM for having 2 cars advance to the Championship Round, despite their 2023 woes.
Alex Daigle…or maybe not, says that Hill doored Creed without thinking about the big picture. Now both are eliminated from the NASCAR playoffs.
Malves points out that if Hill had taken a second-place finish, they’d both be in the Championship 4.
Andre Clarke pins the blame on both RCR drivers.
Meanwhile, Shawn Waggoner loved the race so much that he wanted it to be the Championship Race! What do you think, DDF readers? Yay or nay?
On Your Screen
The Iceberg made an unusual video in the middle of the race weekend about this incident and the following drama. You can watch it below.
JetMDK also got in on this fallout drama.
Our friend, Eric Estepp from Out of the Groove also posted a video covering the whole fiasco.
What’s on your mind, Daily Downforce readers? Who’s side are you on? Hill’s? Creeds? RCR’s? Or do you think there’s plenty of blame to share? Let us know your thoughts and opinions in the comments sections of all our social media platforms. After you’re done doing that, come back right here at DailyDownforce.com and read about all the latest drama, news stories, and discussions coming from the NASCAR garage and out in the stands.