Chicagoland: Jeremy Clements race report

CLEMENTS REBOUNDS FROM LATE RACE PIT STOP TO EARN TOP-5 FINISH SPARTANBURG, SC (September 11, 2007) -- In the highly competitive world of auto racing, teams must maximize every potential resource available to them in order to try and get that...

CLEMENTS REBOUNDS FROM LATE RACE PIT STOP TO EARN TOP-5 FINISH

SPARTANBURG, SC (September 11, 2007) -- In the highly competitive world of auto racing, teams must maximize every potential resource available to them in order to try and get that winning edge. The #3 Clements family-owned ARCA RE/MAX Series' team believed that one of their cards in a possible winning hand was to pit off-sequence late in the race for four fresh Hoosier tires and fuel. These types of calls are not for the faint of heart and Clements' strategy would either make them heroes cashing in on their second series' win of the 2007 season or cost valuable track position that could not be recouped.

The twenty-two year-old South Carolinian drove his One-Stop Convenience Stores/Spartan Constructors/Saxon Group Chevy Monte Carlo to the second quickest time in SIM Factory Pole Qualifying and started on the front row alongside championship points' runner-up Michael McDowell. As the green flag dropped for the "Chicagoland ARCA 200", McDowell and Clements set the pace by pulling away from the remainder of the field. As laps clicked off from the 134 scheduled circuits around the 1.5-mi paved oval, both teams took advantage of a caution to pit and quickly returned to their previous cat & mouse performance at the front of the field. But just as it appeared that the strongest battle for the win would come between the #2 of McDowell and Clements #3 emblazoned Chevy, pit strategy would take over as the top story of the day.

Their fate was sealed after the Clements' team opted not to pit in sequence with their competitors. Until lap 73, Clements was consistently hounding race leader McDowell. McDowell and the lead lap cars pitted while Clements inherited the lead and was the hunted for twenty-seven, adrenalin-charged laps. Unfortunately, Jeremy experienced a lonely feeling with less than a ¼ of the race remaining as he was forced to finally travel down pit road. With McDowell reassuming the point, Clements would return to the track in 16th position. As broadcasters shunned the team's move and scratched the #3 from their list of lead contenders, the Palmetto State native had to make the most of his misfortune and focus on the task at hand.

"We cost ourselves a potential win with that decision to wait and pit but that's racing. Either you're going to be a hero or a zero," summed an exhausted Clements. "The only thing I could do is worry about trying to pass as many cars as possible in the few laps I had left. I didn't think that there were 15 others between me and the checkered, I was focusing only on the one directly ahead of me and knocking them off one by one."

Jeremy did just that, quickly recovering a bit of lost ground and battling back in to the Top-10. As cautions removed several competition laps, Clements used his fresh tires and strong restarts to gain more track position. In the closing laps, he passed reigning Champion Frank Kimmel to edge his way back into the Top-5 at the shock of naysayers and even passed Evernham driver Erin Crocker for fourth place honors.

"I had my work cut out from me starting that far back in the field and I knew there was a strong chance for problems around me so I was trying to be very aware of my surroundings to avoid getting caught up in someone else's mess," Clements added about his biggest concern. "The car was awesome -- I guess that's why we were the ones able to run with Michael all day. I would have loved to been right there with him at the end and just let it come down to the best car but many days in racing, the best car doesn't win. I just want to thank my team for giving me a car that could drive from 16th back to 4th in just over thirty laps."

It was a hard fought battle for the team's impressive 6th Top-5 finish in their tenth 2007 ARCA RE/MAX Series' start but a solid recovery and display of talent, prowess and sheer determination by Jeremy Clements... yet again.

-credit: jcr

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About this article
Series ARCA
Drivers Michael McDowell , Erin Crocker , Jeremy Clements