A lot is on the line for journeyman Jeremy Clements and his family-owned team approaching the final nine NASCAR Xfinity Series regular-season races of this year. For this weekend’s race at Road America, a track where he won at in upset fashion and secured his spot to the Playoffs in 2017, Clements aims to repeat the competitiveness, the pace and the road course magic he and his team exhibited from three seasons ago to propel himself back into title contention this season. Also in the midst of his battle for a postseason berth is the fact that he will making his 350th career start in the Xfinity Series (the only major division series in NASCAR he has ever raced in) when the green flag waves at Road America on Saturday, August 8.
A native from Spartanburg, South Carolina, and who started his racing career by driving go-karts, Clements worked his way up in racing modifies and stock cars, winning feature events and track championships, before racing in Late Models and the ARCA Series. The 2003 season was where he made his first start within NASCAR’s three major division series at Pikes Peak International Raceway in Fountain, Colorado, and in the No. 71 Chevrolet for Young Racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. He started 35th and finished 31st in his series debut.
It was not until 2007 when Clements returned to the series and competed in the final five races of the season, driving the No. 36 Chevrolet for McGill Motorsports. His best finish within his five starts was 23rd at Charlotte in October. Throughout the 2008 and 2009 racing seasons, Clements made select Xfinity starts in his family-owned team, Jeremy Clements Motorsports, while practicing and qualifying cars for Joe Gibbs Racing, notably at Kentucky in 2008 and at Iowa in 2009. Late in the 2009 season, Clements competed in six races in the No. 0 Chevrolet for JD Motorsports, where he earned a best result of 12th at Auto Club Speedway in October.
Clements started the 2010 Xfinity Series season with plans of competing in the opening three races in the No. 0 Chevrolet for JD Motorsports. After failing to qualify for the season opener at Daytona, Clements scaled back to the No. 04 Chevrolet for JD Motorsports. Throughout the 2010 season and the 35-race schedule, he made 16 starts and failed to qualify for seven races. At Gateway in October 2010, Clements notched his first top-10 career result (10th place).
For the 2011 season, Clements competed on a full-time basis with his family-owned team, Jeremy Clements Racing, and sporting the No. 51 alongside his car. He recorded nine top-20 results with a best finish of 14th in September. The following season, Clements returned for another full-time racing role. All of his starts came while driving for JCR, but his car number was 4 for Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July and at Richmond Raceway in September. During the two races where Clements ran the No. 4 car, Ty Dillon sported the No. 51 alongside his car under the Richard Childress Racing banner during his developing races in the series. Clements’ best results in 2012 were a pair of 10th-place finishes at Dover International Speedway in June and at Indianapolis. After the season concluded, Clements surpassed 100 career starts in the Xfinity Series.
Clements started the 2013 season by finishing 33rd in the season opener at Daytona, but he was suspended indefinitely for using a racial slur during an ESPN interview. Missing the next two events, where Ryan Sieg drove Clements’ No. 51 car, Clements returned the following race at Bristol Motor Speedway in March and competed the rest of the 33-race schedule. His best results were a ninth-place finish at Talladega Superspeedway in May and a 10th-place finish during the inaugural race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
From 2014 to 2016, Clements remained as a full-time Xfinity Series competitor for his family-owned team and he notched a total of six top-10 results between the three seasons. His best runs were a fourth-place finish at Talladega in April 2016, a sixth-place result at Road America in June 2014 and a sixth-place result at Bristol in August 2016. His best points result between the three seasons was 14th in 2015. By then, he surpassed 200 Xfinity career starts.
For the first 22 races of the 2017 Xfinity Series season, his seventh as a full-time competitor, Clements had recorded only one top-10 result, which was a seventh-place result at Iowa Speedway in June. The following race at Road America was where Clements rose to the occasion and shined under the spotlight as he was closing in towards race leader and rookie Matt Tifft in the final laps. Through Turns 12 and 13, Clements gained a big run to draw himself right to the rear bumper of Tifft’s No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry. In Turn 14, Clements attempted to pass Tifft for the lead when he got loose and collided into Tifft as both spun through the turn. With no caution falling, Clements was able to quickly straighten his No. 51 Chevrolet Camaro, take the lead and bolt away from the field for one final lap to achieve his first NASCAR triumph in his 256th career start. Of all the achievements that came with Clements’ victory, the biggest one of all was that the win clinched the journeyman and his team a spot in the 2017 Xfinity Series Playoffs with an opportunity to win his first NASCAR championship. For the remainder of the season, however, he finished no higher than 16th and settled in a career-best 12th place in the final standings.
In 2018 and 2019, Clements achieved a total of six top-10 results, a best finish of fourth place at Bristol in August, and he missed the Playoffs during both seasons. His best points result was 14th in 2019. By then, he surpassed 300 career starts.
This season, through the first 17 Xfinity Series races, Clements has achieved three top-10 results with a best result of third place at Pocono Raceway in June. With 11 top-15 results in total, Clements and his family-owned No. 51 Chevrolet team are currently 32 points below the top-12 cutline to secure a spot into this year’s Playoffs and for the second career time.
Catch Clements’ milestone start at Road America on August 8 at noon ET on NBCSN.