By Staff Report | NASCAR.com
The battle for victory in Sunday’s Johnsonville 180 at Road America came down to a pair of drivers who have never won a NASCAR XFINITY Series race.
But it was Jeremy Clements’ day to shock the world by earning his first career win after 256 XFINITY starts.
“I don’t even know what to say,” Clements said in Victory Lane. “I’m just shocked.”
It came down to a breathtaking showdown between Clements and Matt Tifft in the closing laps. Clements gave up the lead with nine laps remaining after trying to stretch out his fuel with the hopes of catching a late-race caution, relinquishing the lead to Tifft.
But that wasn’t the last we would hear from Clements. Four fresh Goodyear tires allowed him to rocket back to the front and challenge the 21-year-old Joe Gibbs Racing driver.
With two laps remaining, Clements and Tifft made contact which sent them both spinning as Clements attempted a pass for the lead. Clements was able to quickly get back on track and take the lead away.
“I want to say sorry to Matt Tifft,” Clements added. “I definitely didn’t mean to spin him out there. I got in there hot and we collided. That was my fault, that was definitely not his fault.”
“Obviously, no matter what, it’s tough,” Tifft said. “I wish we could have raced it out to the last lap. It’s tough to come that close.”
With the victory, the 32-year-old from Spartanburg, S.C. is now locked into the 12-driver XFINITY Series playoffs.
James Davison, driving the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, quickly took the lead away from pole-sitter Austin Cindric on the first lap of the race.
Davison ran away with Stage 1, leading nine of the 10 laps and beating second-place Justin Marks by more than two seconds. Cindric, Brennan Poole and Just Allgaier rounded out the top five.
Davison was later busted for speeding on pit road during pit stops at the stage break, while Cindric spent an extended amount of time on pit road repairing front-end damage suffered from contact with Marks in Stage 1.
Elliott Sadler, who was among many drivers who stayed out to gain track position after the first stage, jumped out to the lead for the first time in Stage 2.
But it was Daniel Hemric who took the lead away from Sadler on the restart following a Lap 14 caution for Ryan Sieg. Hemric was able to hold on to win the second 10-lap stage.
Leading the race, Hemric’s strong day turned into heartbreak after he received a pit-road speeding penalty during a round of pit stops in the final stage. Hemric led 10 laps prior to the misfortune.
Multiple cars were involved in a huge dustup toward the front of the field during the final lap of Stage 2 after Ross Chastain made contact with Marks, sending him sliding into Davison.
After leading 11 of the first 20 laps, Davison was forced to retire from the race due to a cracked radiator.
The XFINITY Series will be back in action for NASCAR’s throwback weekend at Darlington Raceway with the Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200 (3:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM).