Jeremy Clements Looks To Perform Well At Darlington Despite Shoestring Budgetby Hunter Thomas September 1, 2017 0 comments
DARLINGTON, S.C. – Coming off the best weekend of his career, Jeremy Clements is ready to take on Darlington Raceway.
The Spartanburg, South Carolina native won the NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Road America last weekend, snapping a 256-race winless streak. Clements’ team is family owned and basically operates off the purse money that’s earned each weekend. With the bonus check earned from winning in Wisconsin, 32-year-old Clements will use the extra funding to purchase brand new sticker tires for this weekend’s Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200. That’s a huge deal because Darlington Raceway is notorious for chewing up tires.
“From last weekend with the bonus check, we’re going to use it to buy all of the tires this weekend, so we’ve got stickers, and that’s a big thing,” Clements said. “None of the big teams think about that, but we do. Even having stickers, a lot of times is a big deal for us. Like last week, we only practiced on one set of tires. We tried to save what we could so we wouldn’t have to spend 15-grand on tires because that eats up a lot of the purse, and the purse is what we race off of.”
Last weekend, Clements won in a car that was built in 2008. On Saturday at Darlington Raceway, he’ll be competing in the newest car that he has got, and it was built in 2013. During a press conference at Darlington Raceway on Friday, Clements said that he has never had the opportunity to compete in a brand-new car in the series. The shoestring budget hinders the small team from moving forward at times, but with his win at Road America, he will compete in this year’s Chase and won’t finish any worse than 12th in the championship standings.
“Definitely not,” said Clements about ever driving a new car in the series. “It seems that everything that we buy is used. It’s used parts. Used cars. That’s just how we can get by. It’s just crazy. That’s why it’s unbelievable to me. When I came up on the pack of guys that I passed for the lead at first before I pitted, you know, the 22, the 42, the 62, really strong cars, I was like how am I so much faster than these guys? I don’t get it. And it’s just unreal to me because it shouldn’t be that way.”
The car that was run at Road America had three races on the engine, and Clements hopes that he didn’t damage it when he performed the celebratory burnout. With limited resources, he’ll have to compete in the same car at Richmond Raceway following Darlington.
Clements said, “When I did the burnout on the frontstretch, I thought, I need to be easy with this thing because I’m probably going to have to race it like next week, and actually, we are racing it next week at Richmond, so I hope it holds together. We have to do this stuff to stretch our dollar. It’s not something that I want to do. It’s not something that my team wants to do, but to be here and stay here, we have to.”
Racing for a family-owned team can certainly be bittersweet. When the race car is crashed, it can be very difficult to get the car back together and race-ready; however, on weeks when the team runs well, Clements says that the experience can be very satisfying.
“Two weeks ago, or three weeks ago now, we wrecked at Mid-Ohio and killed the frontend of that car, and that’s one of the weeks it’s terrible,” Clements said. “I’m like, I don’t even know how we’re going to get that car fixed. The backup road course car is an even bigger piece of junk, so I didn’t even want to have to run it. Those are the weeks that it’s frustrating, but it has been very satisfying this week.”
So far this weekend at Darlington Raceway, Clements has been running fairly well. He was 12th fastest in opening practice and 29th in final practice in his No. 51 RepairableVehicles.com Chevrolet. Last year, he finished eighth at Darlington Raceway. Performing well come Saturday would be very special for Clements because he grew up attending races at the historic track as a kid.
“I live in Spartanburg, two-and-a-half hours away,” Clements said. “I came here as a kid and sat in the stands to watch the race. Just my first time I came here to race was so special. This place is unlike anything we race at first of all, and it’s a tough track. It’s a fun track, and I go through that during the race. One lap I’m like, I love this place and the next lap, I’m like oh I hate this place. But most of the time, I love it! It’s just special to me because I live in the state, and I came here as a kid watching it.”
Photo Credit: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com