DARLINGTON, S.C. — Once in awhile, a particular driver catches your eye and you think to yourself, this one has possibilities.
In April 2014, I wrote, ‘Jeremy Clements’ 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 wouldn’t be surprising to see him standing in victory lane.’
Almost 3 1/2 years later, Clements finally captured his first career XFINITY win at Road America and I can’t help but feel a sense of pride in his accomplishments.
For him, it’s a childhood dream come true.
“It’s what a lot of people dream about, myself included,” Clements told me, “competing and then winning a race in the next level. I’m extremely pleased. And obviously it makes me want more, so I can taste it again. Hopefully, it’s the first of many.”
That sweet taste of success in a national series was a long time coming. He began racing go-karts when he was seven-years-old, thanks to his grandfather, Crawford Clements.
“My grandfather was a crew chief for Rex White and Buck Baker in the 1960s,” Clements said, “and they won a championship. So he’s the one who got all this started. It was very special. He was in his upper 60s at that time and I learned a ton from him. He’s the reason I started racing. He was very smart and he could figure out how to make cars go faster. He was always a whiz with carburetors. We could use him today, I promise you that.
“He passed away in ‘96 from lung cancer when I was about 11; I owe it all to him. I know he’s smiling down from heaven and I can’t wait to talk to him one day about all this and how it went down. I’m sure he’s proud of me.”
Clements won 47 feature events in go-karts before moving on to dirt track racing. He began racing four cylinders on dirt in 1999 and over the next three years, he scored wins in over 50 feature events as well as two track championships.
In 2002, he began competing in the Late Model division winning nine races and the championship at Cherokee Speedway. On October 25, 2002, Clements made his first ARCA Series start at Talladega Superspeedway.
The following year he competed in Late Models and made five more starts in the ARCA Series with three top-10 finishes. His first start in the XFINITY Series came in 2003 when Clements was 18-years-old. In 2011 he began competing full-time in the series with a career total of one win, two top fives and 13 top 10s in 257 starts.
Those numbers take on more significance when you realize that Jeremy Clements Racing is a small family-owned team with limited funding and a full-time staff of only four people.
While Clements is basking in the afterglow of a trip to Victory Lane, he’s focused on what comes next – the Playoffs.
“We’re trying to get ready for the Playoffs and trying to learn as much as we can to apply toward Kentucky, Dover, Charlotte,” Clements said. “Those are the first three and we want to try to make it to the next round, we don’t want to be a team that gets knocked out in the first round of the playoffs.”
Their game plan is simple. It includes “not making any mistakes and finishing each race,” he explained. “Some of those guys are gonna have problems. They’ll wreck trying to race each other and if we can just be smart, be there at the end, get a good finish and I think we can possibly move on to the next round.”
To say it’s been a year to remember is quite the understatement. In addition to the NASCAR XFINITY Series victory, Clements also got married in May. He doesn’t know what impact the win will have on his future but he is certain of one thing.
“I’m very blessed to be able to do both in the same year, that’s pretty dang cool,” he said. “I’ll never forget this year regardless of what happens.”
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