Sheldon Creed prevailed in a frantic three-wide restart on Lap 52 of Saturday's Buckle Up in Your Truck 225 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race and held the spot through the second stage break, earning his first career series victory when lightning and rain showers forced the race to be called official 71 laps into the scheduled 150-lapper.
Menacing weather around Kentucky Speedway ultimately caused teams to race the skies as well as each other, and Creed's bold move around Kentucky native Ben Rhodes and rookie Zane Smith on that restart turned out to be the trophy-maker.
RELATED: Unofficial results
Rhodes, who won here in 2018 and defending series champion Matt Crafton, who rallied from sixth place on that restart ultimately finished second and third, respectively. Johnny Sauter and series championship leader Austin Hill rounded out the top five.
Rookies Christian Eckes, Smith, Derek Kraus and Tanner Gray finished sixth through ninth with Todd Gilliland completing the top 10. Another former series champion, Brett Moffitt, who led a race-high 26 laps, finished 11th after having to come back up through the field after a pit stop penalty at the conclusion of Stage 1.
It was all Moffitt in the early going. He started on pole and set the pace for the first 26 laps, but Smith got around Moffitt on a Lap 26 restart and was able to hold the point to earn his first stage win of the season.
Differing pit strategies, however, put Parker Kligerman, Crafton, Rhodes and Austin Wayne Self in front to start Stage 2, and they held their own even against the cars with fresher tires. Rhodes took the lead on Lap 46 but was beaten by Creed's aggressive move to the bottom of the track in that frantic restart on Lap 52. Creed led 20 laps on the night.
Creed, driver of the No. 2 GMS Racing Chevrolet, earned his first career win in only his 37th series start. The 22-year-old Californian's previous best finish was runner-up - twice - at Eldora Speedway and Michigan International Speedway last season.
"It feels awesome. I'd really like to have finished that out and get the real checkered flag," said Creed, who conceded he was a little nervous going to the bottom of the race track to make that winning move after watching the NASCAR Xfinity and ARCA Menards Series races earlier at Kentucky.
Ultimately, it all worked out for him.
"Have to thank all my guys, who have been putting so much time in the shop," Creed said, also thanking his family, friends, sponsors and the GMS team for this significant accomplishment in his young career.
"Really wish I could have gotten to the finish line and finished that out right but I'll take this win."
Hill's fifth-place finish was his seventh top 10 in the season's seven races, and he now holds a commanding 47-point advantage over Rhodes in the championship standings. Creed joins two-race winner Grant Enfinger as the two full-time Gander Truck Series drivers with victories on the season.