Jeremy Clement’s recipe for success is a combination of talent, tenacity and mathematical wizardry. Throw some sponsorship dollars and a little luck into the mix and it would not be surprising to see him standing in victory lane.
He drives the No. 51 Chevy in the NASCAR Nationwide Series for family owned team, Jeremy Clements Racing and seven races into the season is ranked 18th in the point standings. Driving for a small, underfunded team often requires juggling expectations with financial limitations. But drivers race with one goal, winning races. After an 18th place finish at Texas, I asked Clements if he would repeat that finish at Darlington Raceway.
“Heck no, we always want better. A top 20 is good for our team but we always want better,” he said.
Clements went on to talk about the issues he would face at this unique track, saying, “The biggest challenge is probably just trying to stay off the wall and conserve tires. The other problem is we don’t have sticker tires for tonight. You need four sets for the race, plus the one you start with. It’s just about tire management. We still need two more sets. One set we have has four laps on them but that’s an every week thing, honestly. Four laps doesn’t sound like a lot. It’s not but it is, especially here. You don’t have the grip. You take off and they’ll just leave you.”
Clements qualified 21st at Darlington and had a competitive car. But a faulty power steering hose caused him to go 10 laps down during repairs and they had to settle for a disappointing 31st place finish.
Each race has its own set of problems but the one constant for Jeremy Clements Racing and other small teams is the lack of sponsorship dollars. They don’t have the newest engines or best equipment and sometimes can’t afford many of the items that better funded teams take for granted. Most race off the purse, using winnings from the previous race to finance the next one. If they’re lucky enough to have a sponsor for a race, they have to decide where to spend that money because it’s never enough.
Clements used the following example to explain the dilemma.
“We have two sets of four lap tires that we could buy for $100 each or spend four grand on two sets of stickers and we’d still need more. So what do you do? How much money do you have for this race? You want to run good of course, that’s the whole reason we’re here but you can’t break the bank. It’s frustrating. You want to run good every week but you know you’re kind of handicapped somewhat.”
Although he admits that the financial struggles can sometimes be slightly overwhelming, he is also quick to point out that he’s not complaining. He is, after all, living his dream and when all is said and done, it comes down to this; Jeremy Clements is a racer. It is not a job description; but rather, defines who he is.