By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
They say there can be miracles if you believe, and that is exactly what happened for Jeremy Clements and his family-owned Jeremy Clements Racing (JCR) at Road America. With the freshest tires, Clements sliced through the field in the final laps in route to his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series victory.
Clements spent the final laps in his No. 51 RepairableVehicles.com Chevrolet Camaro chasing down JGR’s Matt Tifft. As the duo exited the final corner coming to the white flag, they made contact. Both drivers’ cars looped around. Clements re-fired his car and got back up to speed before Michael Annett, who was over 10 seconds behind, could take advantage.
JCR, an underfunded team compared to others, somehow overcame all odds to beat powerhouse teams Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), JR Motorsports, Chip Ganassi Racing and Richard Childress Racing to name a few. Jeremy Clements’ regular crew chief is his father, Tony Clements, who is also the team owner, and the engine builder. The chassis JCR utilized in the Johnsonville 180 was originally built in 2008. Like many underfunded teams, JCR makes due with older equipment.
“I don’t know what to say, I’m just shocked,” was the first words that came to mind for Clements. “This is a car built in 2008. Everything we got is old and used. I just, I can’t believe it, is this real? I have just got to thank Brad from RepairableVehicles.com, my guys, my Dad, Danny Gill (crew chief at Road America). I mean, it’s a total team effort. I’m just so happy. It’s pretty neat to win at Road America, it’s one of my favorite road courses. I’m sorry to Matt Tifft, I definitely didn’t mean to spin him out there.”
The win, Clements’ first, puts him into the 2017 NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs and JCR into the Owner’s Playoffs. It came in his 256th career start, and is Clements’ second career top-five. Clements’ previous best finish was fourth at Talladega in 2016. The win is also Clements’ 13th career top-10 finish.
“My gosh. It’s crazy. Our budget for a year is a fraction of the big teams. This is just a dream come true. I mean, I want to drive for a big team, it just hasn’t been possible the way it’s gone. I keep doing this just to get my name out there, get experience, in case I ever get the call.”
Clements, who almost lost his right hand in a late model crash in 2004, has easily become the story of the ultimate underdog in Xfinity Series in 2017. Now, it is unlikely that Clements’ team will out duel the powerhouse teams for the Owners’ Championship, and without extra support, a Drivers’ Championship may be a longshot. However, Clements has proved that his team can get the job done.