Clemons Puts On A "Classic" At Salem Salem, Indiana - - ARCA RE/MAX Series rookie Josh Clemons seemed to have a show of his own last Saturday night from Salem Speedway after overcoming a number of obstacles including two penalties to score ...
Clemons Puts On A "Classic" At Salem
Salem, Indiana - - ARCA RE/MAX Series rookie Josh Clemons seemed to have a show of his own last Saturday night from Salem Speedway after overcoming a number of obstacles including two penalties to score his first top-five finish of his young ARCA career.
Earlier in the day, the team wasn't sure they would have the night they had. After posting the 22nd fastest time in practice, the team looked at several changes to the No. 41 United States of Mind Ford Taurus for the 200-lap event. One of those changes included a new steering box that went bad during the hour and a half session.
"I really didn't like the way the car was driving, I think the faulty steering box had a lot to do with it," said driver Josh Clemons. "We didn't get the opportunity to have a lot of practice time, I hope that doesn't hurt us," he added.
In time trials, Clemons proved that the lack of track time didn't halt his Clemons Racing team, after he punched out a solid tenth place qualifying effort. Motoring his Ford Taurus around the southern-based Indiana track in 17.880 seconds, or 111.745 MPH, just a mere two-tenths of a second off the Pork pole. Obviously, smiles hovered around the Clemons Racing team, as Josh mounted his way into his third ARCA RE/MAX Series start of the season.
"I'm happy," continued Clemons, who has competed at Salem before in the United Speed Alliance Racing Series. "We put sticker tires on our car, and the car handled well. We're in the field, and at this point that's the main thing. With this being our only short track event of the season, we look to stay clean and gather a good finish."
34 ARCA drivers took the green flag shortly after 8:00PM EST, with Clemons wasting no time trying to dive his No. 41 to the front.
When the first caution flag waved on lap eight for a caution involving John Busse, Clemons had already gobbled up two of his competitors posting eighth place. Clemons reported to the crew that his machine was handling beautifully, and was going to take his time getting to the front.
Quickly, the No. 41 Ford Taurus became one of the quickest on the track. Clemons using veteran like moves and rookie patience maneuvered his machine into the top-five nearing lap sixty.
Still driving a well-handling automobile, Clemons's rocket ship was best on restarts. The New Albany, native would study his prey at the start of the green flag, before making a move, continuing to charge towards the lead pack.
Closing in on halfway, Clemons had locked the third position behind 2004 Series champion Frank Kimmel and outside pole sitter Michael Simko. However Clemons while running in the third position he would be forced to pit for a stop and go penalty because of a spectator who was with the Clemons Race Team walked onto pit road without a helmet. Josh leaving the pits too fast caused the second penalty. With a now frustrated 28-year old driver behind the wheel, Clemons knew he had a car good enough to win, but would have to skillfully use guidance and again patience to retain his laps lost..
Still upset about the earlier penalties, Clemons knew he had a job to do. Still one of the fastest machines on the track, Josh steered his multicolored machine towards getting his laps back.
After leader Frank Kimmel was crunched out of the race, "Is that Frank?," asked Clemons. "Wow that really sucks, I was looking forward to racing against him. We knew we really had a car that was capable of winning the race. This Ford Taurus was bad to the bone.
Indeed, Clemons gave it all he had and was able to swallow up one of his two lost markers. Despite having a lighting fast machine, the wall eventually caught the former late model driver as he brushed the walls between turns one and two, causing some damage to the front-end alignment.
Despite the woes, and damage, he was able to hold the fifth place position, collecting his career best finish, and the best for an Indiana-native.
"After all things considered, I'm happy," said Clemons climbing from his machine. "We had a really good racecar, but the penalties cost us, and cost us big. I think we could have easily won the race if we hadn't lost our laps, but sometimes that's the way it goes," replied Clemons, who competed 210 of the 211-extended markers.
Clemons, who is aiming at a full NASCAR Busch Series assault in 2005 added. "I'm happy for all my guys. It's been a rough couple of months, but now we have proven that we can run upfront. I'm ecstatic for my sponsors as well. United States of Mind, Sky Spy, Cybertek Engineering, and Tech Star Design and Manufacturing. I promised them we would get them a good finish this weekend, we did."
Next up for the ARCA RE/MAX Series is the season finale from Talladega Superspeedway. While it is not known at this time, if Clemons Racing will attempt the event, the 22nd event of the 2004 season will be broadcasted live on the Speed Channel, Saturday, October 2nd starting at 2:00pm EST.