Clements Shocks with First XFINITY Win at Road America
By Matteo Marcheschi
Jeremy Clements took the win in the Johnsonville 180 at Road America on Sunday, August 27. Clements led 10 of the race’s 45 laps after a late pit stop allowed him to catch leader Matt Tifft, passing him coming to the white flag. The two collided entering the final corner, sending both spinning. However, third-place Michael Annett had fallen too far back to take advantage of the two leaders’ issues.
Clements scored his first victory in his 256th series start since his series debut in 2003. Clements has consistently finished inside the top-20 in points since he started driving full-time in 2011. He is now guaranteed to set a new career best in points, as his playoff berth means that the worst he could finish (12th) is better than his current best (14th).
Clements, however, may not have had the chance he received if road-course specialists James Davison, Justin Marks, and Austin Cindric hadn’t had issues.Making his XFINITY Series debut, Cindric’s aggressive nature got the best of him. He would make contact with a number of cars, and would effectively end his day after a collision cut his left-rear tire down. Marks and Davison found issues when Ross Chastain made contact with Marks, sending him into Davison, whose day would end because of the incident. Marks would continue to finish fourth, but was never quite as quick after the incident.
With his win, Clements became the fourth different XFINITY regular to lock himself into the playoffs, along with William Byron, Justin Allgaier, and Ryan Reed. While Clements can’t truly be expected to contend for the XFINITY series championship, an opportunity like the one he’s been presented is massive for a small team like Jeremy Clements Racing.
Clements’ win, though, comes at a cost for others. Dakoda Armstrong was knocked out of the Playoffs, and Brendan Gaughan now fills that all-important 12th spot on the playoff grid, if only by four points over Armstrong. Blake Koch and Michael Annett are also in the playoffs, each by less than 30 points, and every other driver is all but locked in, despite not having wins.
Next up for the NASCAR XFINITY Series is the Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200 at Darlington Raceway, which takes place on Saturday, September 2 on NBCSN.