Fourth-place XFINITY finish a victory for Clements

Published: Wednesday, May 4, 2016 at 6:40 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 4, 2016 at 6:40 p.m.

Occasionally, even for the struggling race driver trying to make it on his own, things work out. The hare does not always beat the tortoise, but that’s the way to bet.

Top-10 finishes are hard to come by for Jeremy Clements.

A Spartanburg native with a Spartanburg team, Clements has long been praised for his talent, potential and willingness to persevere. At Talladega Superspeedway on Saturday, all that “want to” paid off with a fourth-place finish in the Sparks Energy 300, his highest finish ever in an Xfinity Series race.

“It wasn’t a win,” Clements said Wednesday, “but it sure felt like one.”

The No. 51 Chevrolet Clements drove at Talladega was no tortoise, but it wasn’t built, polished and appointed lavishly like the entries from teams owned by the likes of Roger Penske, Joe Gibbs and Richard Childress, either.

Jeremy Clements Racing has five employees, “two or three full-time,” and a couple others who get off work and stop by to help as best they can. One is a firefighter. The primary sponsors on the car were Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet and BRT Extrusions.

The Xfinity Series, allegedly the Triple-A minor league of NASCAR, is mostly dominated by vast, monied Sprint Cup teams with only marginally less vast and monied Xfinity subsidiaries. Clements heads a team competing against corporations.

Clements, 31, led seven laps at Talladega after starting 34th. He achieved his ninth top-10 finish of a 209-race Xfinity career. He won an Automobile Racing Club of America race at Nashville Superspeedway on Aug. 11, 2007, and collected 13 top-five finishes and 21 top 10s in 40 starts in that series from 2002 through 2008.