Sixteenth. Nineteenth. Twelfth. Those are solid results for any up and coming driver, especially for one driving for a low budget family owned team. Jeremy Clements hasn?t exactly turned the racing world upside down, but he has quietly marched to top 20 finishes in the last three Nationwide races, garnering attention in doing so. His path to this point has not been an easy one and has faced a lot of ups and downs. The amount of talent and support of family and friends, along with a few sponsors, has kept him going.
I first heard about Jeremy in 2003 when BGNracing.com (as it was called then) featured an article about him. His first Busch race in July of that year did not go smoothly, ending rather early in a wreck with Brian Vickers. He had already run 4 ARCA races prior to that with two top tens and a highest finish of third in Charlotte. He returned to Lowes Motor Speedway to claim another 3rd place finish in the fall. In 2004 Jeremy took his #3 Chevy to four ARCA races, claiming an 8th place finish and battling problems that knocked him out of the other 3. On July 24 everything changed for the 20 year old driver. While racing his late model at 311 Speedway in Madison, NC, the drive shaft broke and came up into the cockpit, smashing into his hand and arm. He managed to get himself out of the car before being rushed off to a nearby hospital. Doctors told him he would never race again, but steely determination pushed him on through many surgeries, a bout with pneumonia and countless hours of therapy. Not quite one year after the accident, Jeremy got back behind the wheel of a car and a couple months later returned to stock car racing in the Chicago and Talladega ARCA events. He was once more sidelined by mechanical problems in those races, but came back stronger in 2006, finishing 13th at Daytona and 14th in Kentucky. When ARCA returned to Kentucky, Jeremy finished 3rd and followed that up by taking 2nd, 5th and 9th at Pocono, Gateway and Nashville. He wrapped up his part of the season with a 38th in Michigan (due to an oil pump failure) and a 16th in Chicago.
2007 started off with a bang when the Spartanburg, SC driver finished 3rd at Daytona and 12th a couple races later in Nashville. He was forced off the track by problems in Kansas and Kentucky and rebounded to take 4th, 5th and 7th in his next 3 ARCA races. He was leading the second race at Pocono when he ran out of fuel on the last lap and turned the win over to Michael McDowell as he coasted to third. Disappointed with that finish, he charged to the win in Nashville a week later and won the coveted guitar. Gateway did not go as planned three weeks after that, but he took home 4th and 6th in Chicago and Talladega before taking the step up to the Busch series beginning in Charlotte. The best of those finishes were a 23rd in Charlotte and 27th in the last race of the year. The other three races would have had better finishes if he hadn?t gotten caught up in a crash at the Memphis wreckfest or got taken out early in the Texas race.
He returned to ARCA in 2008, taking home 5 top 10s in 7 races (the highest of which was 2nd at Nashville one year after his win) and participated in 2 Nationwide series races. He also got the chance to fill in for Kyle Busch at Kentucky as the JGR driver attempted to run in all three major NASCAR series in three different states in one weekend. The result of Jeremy?s practice was a 7th quickest qualifying lap and a lightning fast car that led a race high 85 laps before it?s primary driver backed it into the wall as the ?backup? driver watched.
In 2009 Jeremy and his team turned their attention solely to NASCAR. It was a very difficult year for the now 25 year old driver as mechanical problems or wrecks took the chance at good finishes away from him in seven of twelve races. He had plans to run the June races in Nashville and Kentucky, but got a call from Joe Gibbs Racing to once more be backup. As it turned out, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano were both available all weekend and Jeremy never set foot in the cars. He was around to watch both of them win and to see the Nashville guitar trophy smashed to smithereens. Right before Kansas he signed a deal to use the points and equipment from Johnny Davis? #0 team, allowing Jeremy to run the last 7 races of the year. He added a 12th place finish in his first race at California to his 16th place in St. Louis and took 22nd a week later at the Lowe?s Motor Speedway. Failing to make the race in Homestead due to several errors in setting up the car sent the team back to South Carolina early to start preparing for 2010.
They showed up for Daytona, but were sent back home after rain washed out qualifying. Hopes were still high heading to California with a new number, but came crashing down, literally, when Jeremy ran over a piece of debris that cut down his tire. They had a hard time finding speed and the balance of the car and missed the race for the third straight week and decided to skip racing in Bristol. However, they came back to qualify and finish 22nd at Nashville. Electrical problems sidelined them at Texas and set up issues kept them from the field in Talladega. After taking a month off to straighten things out, Jeremy and team returned to run three straight races beginning with Charlotte. Now having 3 top 20s under their belt, things seem to definitely be looking up for the likeable young driver. He will be once more be taking the next two races off and hopes to run at Daytona if enough funding can be found to purchase the new COT. If that falls through, his next race will be in Chicago and, hopefully, followed up with racing at the Gateway Int?l Raceway.
Through thick and thin, setbacks and victory, Jeremy has stayed strong as he constantly tries to attract sponsors and owners? attention with good finishes in underfunded cars.
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