Jeremy Clements + Pocono Success LONG POND PA (6-3-08) -- In four previous ARCA RE/MAX Series starts at Pocono Raceway, Jeremy Clements's worst finish was 27th, a DNF in 2006. But outside of that, the Spartanburg, South Carolina driver's Pocono...
Jeremy Clements + Pocono Success
LONG POND PA (6-3-08) -- In four previous ARCA RE/MAX Series starts at Pocono Raceway, Jeremy Clements's worst finish was 27th, a DNF in 2006. But outside of that, the Spartanburg, South Carolina driver's Pocono track record is spot-on.
In the three other Pocono starts, Clements has finished no worse than fourth, which happened in last year's Pocono 200. In the other two, he was second and third. It would not require a rocket scientist to figure what would come next should he improve on his Pocono stat sheet.
Actually, with the checkered flag in sight, he was less than a straightaway from victory lane in last year's Pennsylvania 200 at Pocono when his tank ran dry in his family-owned and operated no. 3 Chevy Monte Carlo. With the wind out of his sail, literally and figuratively, he coasted across the finish line in third no doubt verbally expressing a fairly wide range of superfluous expletives while victor Michael McDowell and Josh Wise drove by waving at full song.
"I couldn't believe it; it was so disappointing," said Clements. "I remember going down the backstretch on the last lap with a pretty good lead thinking about what I was going to say in victory lane. I had never won an ARCA race, and I wanted to make sure I didn't leave out any sponsors or people who have really helped me. I was going over it in mind so I would be prepared when I got there. We just never got there."
Well, not exactly. Because one week after Clements's most frustrating moment in motorsports, he steered his way into victory lane at Nashville Superspeedway. Talk about the perfect medicine.
"It was so cool to get that guitar at Nashville. It's mounted up on our wall as you enter our race shop; it's definitely my favorite trophy. It was weird how that all played out. I just wanted to win a race. It's amazing when I look back at it."
And quite fortunately, Clements also gets to look ahead on it -- this weekend at Pocono Raceway where he will be one of 43 top-notch drivers assembled for Saturday's Pocono 200, the 46th appearance of the ARCA RE/MAX Series at Pocono since 1983. For Clements, headed to Pocono is obviously a very good thing.
"I just love that track (Pocono). It's got three different turns and it's so fast, but it's got a short-track feel.
"I remember the first time I went there; I really didn't have a clue. I was really nervous. I had never really done any shifting; it was all new to me, but now I love the shifting aspect."
Shifting for Clements at Pocono means going through the gear box four times each lap.
"Some guys only shift once or twice, but we shift four times. We go from third to fourth at the flagstand and then downshift back to three headed off into (turn) one. Coming off one, we go back to fourth. Then in the tunnel turn, we downshift back to third and leave it there till we get back to the flagstand.
"It's not real tough; the only time it can get a little tricky is when you're racing next to someone going through the tunnel turn -- you don't want the car getting loose with one hand on the wheel. But, other than that, it's a blast."
Having finished fourth, third and second, Clements has just one thing in mind regarding his upcoming Pocono adventure.
"We should have won last year. This year, anything less than a win will be disappointing. But we've also got to be realistic. I heard Dario's (Franchitti) coming. We can't compete with the Cup stuff; we can't spend like they can. And Toyota's made huge strides since last year; they've definitely got more horsepower.
"But we've got the best motor we've ever had at Pocono. I'm not worried about any of the drivers coming; I can race with them; it's the equipment I'm worried about. There's no doubt the 2 car's (Scott Speed/Red Bull Toyota) going to be fast, no matter who's in it."
And, based on what we know, there's no doubt the 3 car will be fast with Clements in it.
"We're bringing the same old intermediate car we use everywhere. It's the same car we've always raced at Pocono; it's the same car we won with at Nashville. We'll run the heck out of it like we always do. And I'll be very disappointed if we don't win the thing; I don't care who's in the race."
In 35 career ARCA RE/MAX Series starts since 2002, Clement's has 11 top-5 finishes and 17 top-10s. He also continues to turn heads.
"I'm going to practice and qualify Kyle Busch's Nationwide Series car at Kentucky next weekend. He's (Busch) going to be at Michigan that weekend, so I'm going to get the opportunity to get in the 18 car at Kentucky, so I'm really looking forward to that. It'd be real nice to go into that deal with a win at Pocono; and that's our plan."
A full weekend of on-track activity is planned for the Pocono 200 with ARCA RE/MAX Series haulers scheduled to converge at the speedway on Thursday, June 5th from 4-6:00 pm. A practice session is scheduled for Friday, June 6th beginning at 10:15 am, with SIM Factory Pole Award Qualifying slated for 1:45 pm. The Pocono 200 kicks off Saturday afternoon, June 7th at 1:00 pm and will be televised same-day on SPEED at 10 pm eastern.
Tickets for the ARCA RE/MAX Series Pocono 200, the SPRINT Cup Series event and the entire 2008 Pocono Raceway season are available by contacting the Pocono Raceway Ticket Office at 1-800-RACEWAY (1-800-722-3929), or through www.poconoraceway.com.