Jeremy Clements drove his No. 51 Chevrolet to a career best sixth place finish Saturday afternoon in the Nationwide Series race at Road America. For a team that is underfunded and often overlooked, it was a reminder of what the Nationwide Series was designed to be; a learning ground to showcase the talent of drivers hoping to make it to the premier Sprint Cup level.
Clements’ determination to succeed in the face of what sometimes seems like insurmountable odds has made him a fan favorite. The engines in his cars are not the most current and the team often has to cut corners when it comes to new tires, parts and equipment. Some might call him an underdog but for many he is “The Fan’s Man.”
On days like Saturday, it’s all worth it.
Clements expressed his joy and appreciation on his twitter page, saying, “So excited for our small team for our 6th place @roadamerica! What an awesome finish at a super fun track! Appreciate all the support.”
After practice and qualifying, he was confident that he had a competitive car.
“I knew we had a good car,” he told me. “We were 14th in practice and qualified 13th so I knew we had a car capable of a top-10 and that was my plan going into the race.”
The race was not without its challenges. His pit crew was understaffed, he had a couple of inexperienced spotters and then there was the rain.
“I’ve never driven in the rain in this type of car before,” he said. “Plus, our defogger wasn’t working right and it was hard to see.”
Clements also had to overcome an on-track incident with the No. 6 car of Trevor Bayne which cost him valuable track position. He was able to drive through the field and regain most of the positions but feels that it may have cost him a top-five. Despite the obstacles, they found the perfect balance between car, driver, strategy and luck.
“On these road courses, the driver can make up a lot of positions and we had a good car, good strategy and we just put it all together.”
The sixth place finish was his sixth top-10 in 148 Nationwide Series starts and his first top-10 this season. Clements is currently 15th in the series point standings.
He’s encouraged by last weekend’s performance but is looking forward to the remainder of the season, hoping to add more top-10 finishes to his resume.
“I believe in momentum. It was a big morale boost for everyone but,” he explained, “the next track we go to is very different. We’re always aiming for top-ten finishes so every week we keep plugging away.”
This week the team travels to Kentucky for the John R. Elliott HERO Campaign 300 presented by Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over race where they will attempt to take advantage of that momentum and make this season one to remember.