Photo credit: Getty Images

Sheldon Creed nearing unexpected NASCAR record

Sheldon Creed finished second behind Shane van Gisbergen in Saturday's Xfinity Series race at Sonoma. He is now on the cusp of tying an unexpected NASCAR record.

Creed, who seeks his first Xfinity win, finished runner-up for the ninth time in the series. This is the second-most all-time.

Dale Jarrett and Daniel Hemric hold the record with 10 runner-up finishes before their first Xfinity win.

Creed, who won the 2020 Truck Series championship, made his full-time move to Xfinity in 2022. He joined Richard Childress Racing and took over the No. 2 Chevrolet.

Creed posted four top-five finishes as a rookie, two of which were runner-ups. His second-place finish at Darlington was one of the season's most memorable as he battled Kyle Larson and Noah Gragson on the final lap. All three drivers slammed into the wall multiple times while racing for the win, but it was Gragson who ultimately crossed the line first.

Creed returned to RCR in 2023 and made the playoffs for the first time in his Xfinity career. He failed to win a race, but he finished runner-up five more times. This includes the Round of 8 elimination race at Martinsville Speedway and the championship race the following weekend at Phoenix Raceway.

Creed moved to Joe Gibbs Racing ahead of this season, and he took over the No. 18 Toyota. This is the same entry Hemric drove as he captured his first career win.

Creed has posted five top-five finishes in the first 14 races this season, two of which were runner-ups. He finished second behind former teammate Austin Hill at Daytona to start the season. He then finished second behind van Gisbergen at Sonoma last weekend.

Jarrett, for comparison, posted his first runner-up finish at Bristol in 1983. He was behind Morgan Shepherd, who was the only driver to finish on the lead lap.

Jarrett continued chasing his first win while posting runner-ups at such tracks as Richmond, Martinsville, and Orange County Speedway.

The future Hall of Famer ultimately broke through for his first win at Orange County Speedway in 1986. Jarrett started from the pole and led all 150 laps. He then celebrated the first of his 11 career wins in the second-tier series.

Hemric, who now competes full-time in Cup, also posted his first runner-up with Richard Childress Racing. He finished second behind Sam Hornish Jr. at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 2017.

Hemric's quest for his first career Xfinity win continued in 2018, 2020, and 2021. He came close to securing this elusive win at such tracks as Michigan, Kentucky, Kansas, Phoenix, and Atlanta.

The North Carolina native finally broke through in the 2021 season finale at Phoenix. He was one of four drivers eligible to win the Cup championship. Austin Cindric, Noah Gragson, and AJ Allmendinger were the other three.

The championship race came down to an overtime restart after Jade Buford and Josh Williams crashed with seven laps remaining. Gragson and Allmendinger were out of contention for the win, so the battle came down to Cindric and Hemric.

The two contenders lined up on the front row for the restart. Once the green flag waved, they remained side-by-side while racing around the 1-mile oval.

Cindric took the lead on the final lap, but Hemric got to his side once again in Turn 3. The two cars made contact on the frontstretch and crossed the line together. Hemric won by a mere few feet. He captured his first national NASCAR series win and his first championship.

Will Creed break through for his first win by dominating a race or capturing a championship like Jarrett and Hemric? That answer remains unknown.

What Creed knows is that he will have 19 more opportunities to win this season, starting Saturday at Iowa Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET on USA).