Jeremy Clements ‘shocked’ after winning first race in thriller at Road America

By NASCAR Wire Service NASCAR.com  at 5:48 pm

RELATED: Race results Detailed breakdown

ELHART LAKE, Wis. — Journeyman Jeremy Clements and his small team topped big-name race organizations to clinch a first-ever victory in 256 NASCAR XFINITY Series starts.

On the second-to-last lap of the Johnsonville 180 Sunday at Road America, Clements attempted to pass Matt Tifft for the lead. He wheeled his Chevrolet to the inside of Tifft’s Toyota Camry sending both of them spinning. Clements fired his car back up faster than Tifft and seized the lead headed into the final go-around. From there, the 32-year-old XFINITY Series veteran cruised to Victory Lane, finishing 5.802 seconds ahead of runner-up Michael Annett.

Clements, who co-owns Clements Racing out of Spartanburg, South Carolina, with his father Tony Clements, was running in a Chevrolet that was built in 2008. With the victory, he earned a berth in the NASCAR XFINITY Series playoffs.

“I’m extremely pleased right now, and it feels like a dream,” said Clements, who started 24th in the 40-car field.

Tifft finished third. The 21-year-old Joe Gibbs Racing driver said he was battling a loose car in the braking zones and realized that Clements would pose a tough challenge, since he had fresher tires.

Tifft led six laps toward the end of the race before the incident with Clements, who made his final pit stop on Lap 29.

“I wish we could have raced for the white flag and been able to battle it out a little bit more,” said Tifft, who made his final pit stop on Lap 21 in the No. 19 Toyota.

“It’s funny how things work. How at Mid-Ohio you can be thrilled with a third-place finish and you’re upset about it here. All you can do is keep on trying to have great runs and one day it works out for you.”

The task was not a simple one for Clements, who held the race lead for a handful of laps when the leaders pitted early in the third stage and he was out in front for the one that mattered most in the 45-lap event.

“I was licking my chops,” Clements said. “I was just so excited, I couldn’t believe that the (win) was right there for me to get.

“I was really beating a lot of guys out of those last two corners. Especially the last corner; I could get in really deep. That’s where I thought I could pass (Tifft) at. I should have maybe been a little more patient. But it was coming on the last lap. He’s probably mad though, and I’m sorry to him.”

Sports car standout James Davison was in the wrong place at the wrong time on the final lap of the second stage. Davison led the first 11 laps of the race but tagged the retaining wall in turn 6 on Lap 19 and sustained severe damage on the No. 20 Toyota that forced the Australian to the garage. Davison, driving for Joe Gibbs Racing in his third XFINITY Series start, won Stage 1 and led a race-high 11 laps.

Justin Marks overcame damage to his car sustained at the end of Stage 2 in a collision with Ross Chastain to finish fourth. Brendan Gaughan came in fifth. William Byron, Blake Koch, Cole Custer, Casey Mears and Parker Kligerman rounded out the top 10.

Daniel Hemric won the second stage, led 10 laps and finished 11th overall.

“I can’t believe it,” Clements said. “I’m just, is this is real?”

Austin Theriault Wins ARCA 100 At Road America

TOLEDO, Ohio (Aug. 28, 2017) -- Austin Theriault's driver statistics are getting more impressive by the moment. His win at Road America Sunday was his fifth ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards victory in 17 career starts, and fourth this year. That means that the Fort Kent, Maine driver has won roughly 30% of the all the ARCA races he has entered. Further, he's never finished outside the top-10 and only finished outside the top-five three times, giving him an average finish of 3.4.

Theriault secures Bill France 4 Crown
His win in the Road America 100 not only padded his championship points lead, it secured the Bill France 4 Crown championship. A championship within a championship, the Bill France 4 Crown provides a link to the series’ roots by featuring a diverse combination of tracks in any given season. This year's Bill France championship included the Nashville Fairgrounds paved short-track, the Pocono Raceway triangular superspeedway, the Illinois State Fairgrounds mile dirt and the Road America road course. Theriault finished fourth at Nashville, ninth at Pocono, second at Springfield and first at Road America

A win at DuQuoin would put Theriault in unique category
His win at Road America potentially puts him in an elite category of drivers who have won on all of ARCA's track types and disciplines to include a short track, a superspeedway, a dirt track and a road course. Currently, just eight drivers fit into the aforementioned category over 65 consecutive years of ARCA competition: Nelson Stacy, Curtis Turner, Jack Bowsher, Bob Schacht, Ken Schrader, Chris Buescher, Justin Allgaier and Parker Kligerman. A win this Monday at DuQuoin would add Theriault to that list. It's worth noting that Theriault finished second in his first dirt track start at Springfield Aug. 20.

Herbst runner-up at Road America
Riley Herbst unofficially finished second in Bill France 4 Crown points after his second-place finish at Road America. Herbst was in the driver's seat to win the France 4 Crown with his seventh-place finish at Nashville and his win at Pocono; however, the Las Vegas, Nevada rookie got caught up in a crash at Springfield that, in the end, eliminated any chance to win the 4 Crown. Herbst is still in the running for SCOTT Rookie of Year honors.

Jones, Lee impressive
PJ Jones added a great deal of flavor to the race at Road America, coming home a career-best third in Don Fike's 27 car. Jones, who was subbing for AJ Fike, is the son of 1963 Indy 500 winner Parnelli Jones. Fike will be returning to the cockpit of the 27 for the next race at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds. Shane Lee was also impressive in his road course debut, finishing fourth in the Big Tine Ford.

Rookie Womack fifth in series debut
Rookie Michael Womack, in Mason Mitchell's 78 car, finished fifth in his ARCA Racing Series debut at Road America.

“I’m ecstatic that we ended up fifth,” said an excited Womack after the race. “The last restart was wild and a little bit sketchy. Going into turn one, I saw a lot of smoke. I was scared for a second…luckily, I was able to turn right and clear those guys and not sustain any damage. We ended up with a top-five in our debut; I couldn’t be happier. These MMM guys were great to work with all weekend. I can’t thank them enough for the great opportunity.”

Womack's MMM teammate Cole Custer was racing for the lead on the last lap before contact with Austin Cindric sent the Ladera Ranch, Calif. driver into the gravel.

“We had a pretty good solid car all day,” said Custer. “We raced for second and third all day long. I felt like on the short run we were the quicker car. I didn’t expect Austin to brake so early but it’s entirely my fault. I was trying to miss him and got into him. I hate that it ruined both of our days. The MMM guys gave me a solid car. It was great to be back racing in the ARCA Series.”

Win-Tron Racing came out of Road America with two top-10 finishes between Austin Wayne Self (sixth) and Gus Dean (ninth). While Self has competed on road courses, it was Dean's first attempt.

Career-best for Decker
Natalie Decker also had a big day at Road America, finishing a career-best seventh in the Venturini Motorsports 25 car. It was her career-first road course start.

"Road America was so challenging, but I never had so much fun," said Decker. "I was literally talking to everyone…anyone who would talk to me about road course racing. I talked to Cole Custer, Austin Wayne Self, Tony Ave…he helped me the most. And Jeff Trudell, who I went to (road course) school with was with me on the radio. He did a wonderful job helping me with my line."

Decker also found out that road course racing can be more strenuous than oval track racing.

"It was really hard on my body. My right arm from shifting and my left leg from braking…way more tiring than oval racing."

Decker also had a front row seat for all the last-lap excitement.

"I had the perfect view…a front row seat. I was in the middle of it every time…turn one, turn five, turn eight; I don't know how I got through. I just never changed my line and I missed all of it. It was such a relief to see that checkered flag…that last lap was so crazy."

Decker has one more race in 2017 -- the Kansas Speedway finale in October.

"Road America definitely helped with my confidence going into Kansas."

The General Tire GRABBER-Southern Illinois 100 is next at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds, coming Monday Labor Day, Sept. 4. The Southern Illinois 100 champions list includes some of the most widely-recognized names in American motorsports. Jay Frank won the inaugural Southern Illinois 100 in 1950. Just some of the winners who would follow include Marshall Teague, Indy 500 winners Jimmy Bryan and AJ Foyt, Fred Lorenzen, Don White, Norm Nelson, Jack Bowsher, NASCAR champions Rusty Wallace and Tony Stewart, Bob Keselowski, Billy Thomas, Ken Schrader, Parker Kligerman, Chris Buescher and Grant Enfinger.

Raceday Schedule/Media Coverage
The 64th running of the General Tire GRABBER-Southern Illinois 100 is scheduled to get the green flag at approximately 3 p.m. local Central time. Practice is from 10:45-11:45 a.m., with General Tire Pole Qualifying at 12:30 p.m.

ARCAracing.com will feature live audio coverage of all on-track activities including flag-to-flag coverage of the General Tire GRABBER-Southern Illinois 100. Live timing and scoring of all on-track activities and live chat will also be available throughout the afternoon at arcaracing.com.