Jeremy Clements has his first victory in the Xfinity Series.
Clements made contact with Matt Tifft as the two were racing for the lead in the final corner of the next-to-last lap Sunday at Road America and both drivers went spinning around. Clements got his car straightened out first and survived the final lap to win.
Clements, who co-owns his team with his father, said the car he was driving Sunday was built in 2008.
“Everything we’ve got is old and used,” Clements said.
Tifft, driving for Joe Gibbs Racing, was losing significant time to Clements in the final laps of the race. Clements pitted later than Tifft did and had far fresher tires. He cut Tifft’s lead of eight seconds down to car lengths with two laps to go and was going to pass Tifft at some point over the final four-mile lap if it wasn’t for the contact in turn 14.
Clements’ win is the 2017 version of David Gilliland’s win over J.J. Yeley at Kentucky in NASCAR’s second-tier series. Gilliland, driving for an independent team, ran down the JGR car Yeley was driving in the final laps to score his first victory. The win propelled Gilliland to a Cup Series career that spanned Robert Yates Racing and Front Row Motorsports, among other teams.
While Gilliland’s win came in his seventh Xfinity start, Clements’ win Sunday was his 256th start. It was just his second top-five finish and 13th top 10. Before Sunday, Clements was likely more known to some fans as the driver suspended by NASCAR in 2013 for an “intolerable and insensitive remark” in an interview.
It’s a type of victory that should be happening with more frequency in NASCAR’s lower-tier series too. It’s no secret that Clements’ win is a product of a race on a road course happening on an off weekend for the Cup Series. Road courses are an equalizer when it comes to the discrepancy in equipment quality and there were no Cup Series drivers in the field to potentially snag the win.
But with Cup Series teams having a funding advantage over teams like Clements’, the intermediate tracks that make up the majority the NASCAR schedule are dominated by teams with budgets of more than a few million and drivers with more than a few races of experience at NASCAR’s top level.
Yeah, Clements’ victory is special because it’s so unique under those circumstances we just listed. But it would be great if wins like his happened more than once every few years.
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