By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Correspondent
BRISTOL, Tenn. – In a chaotic Food City 300, Jeremy Clements earned a top-five finish at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series driver was inside the top-10 throughout the entire final stage. Clements used his track position, and the fast pace of the race, to keep his No. 51 RepairableVehicles.com Chevrolet Camaro SS up front.
Clements battled John Hunter Nemechek hard on the final 14-lap run to the checkered. The veteran driver did everything he could to keep Nemechek at bay. Off the final corner, the rookie of the year contender moved Clements to take third, leaving the driver-owner in fourth.
The 34-year-old driver explained his in-race struggles.
“We started off too tight there at the start, lost a lot of positions, got our car better, just fought tight the whole race, trying to roll the center. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get it like we needed, but we made it better for sure.
“I was excited, I thought we were going to get third. I was really going to be stoked. The 23 moved us really good there on the last lap and about wrecked me. I’m glad we didn’t wreck. There were a lot of people having problems out there, it was a treacherous track for sure, trying to run the top groove and get all that you could. Top-five is pretty cool.”
The Spartanburg, SC native started fifth, but plummeted at the start. The tight condition hindered Clements’ progress throughout the race. It wasn’t until the second stage, and a high attrition rate, that he broke back into the top-10. Clements ended the second stage in 10th.
The fourth-place finish is just the third top-five in Clements’ career. For the family run operation, its’ evidence of years of hard work. The most recent top-five for Clements came in 2017 when he stunned the NASCAR world with a victory at Road America.
“A top-five, this is badass,” Clements shouted. “We were right there if the No. 2 (Tyler Reddick) or anyone else had problems and would’ve capitalized on it. That’s all that you can ask for. I’m so proud of my team for all of their effort and hard work. They really work their tails off.”
The family-owned operation has been known to run older equipment week-in and week-out compared to the competition. The car Clements drove in his top-five is a former Chip Ganassi Racing car, one of two that he acquired over the off-season. In fact, it is one of just two cars that he has relied on for the bulk of the season.
The car most recently ran at Iowa Speedway where it was damaged in an accident. The team repaired it in time for Bristol. It has also run at ISM Raceway, Dover International Speedway, and Richmond Raceway.
“We’ve run this car and it’s sister everywhere but the superspeedways and road courses,” Clements explained. “They’ve helped us step up our program a lot. If we can just improve our motor program some, we build our own engines. We’re down in that department, but they continue to try.”
Despite the fourth-place finish, Clements remains 14th in the championship standings, 137-points behind the cutoff for the playoffs, held by Ryan Sieg. With four races remaining until the playoffs, only a win can truly guarantee him a playoff berth.