TALLADEGA, Ala. – After a 36th place DNF last week at Texas Motor Speedway and a measly 20th place result with no stage points in the Sparks 300 at Talladega Superspeedway, Jeremy Clements is now facing a must-win situation after a rough opening round of the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs.
“When the caution came out, that was it,” Clements explained. “You got what you got there. Our left front shock had come out of the bottom, and was just about to come out the top, so we were really lucky to even finish. We had some damage on the right front from that first incident over there.
“It just didn’t go the way we wanted, of course. Only way we wanted was to be in Victory Lane and we finished 20th.”
That damage came from the only incident-driven caution of the race when Ty Gibbs spun on the backstretch in the opening laps. Somehow, it was a single car spin with minor damage across a couple other cars.
One of the things everyone awaits is the dreaded ‘Big One.’ Usually a large wreck involving seven or more cars is a common incident at the drafting tracks such as Daytona International Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway. Even with Austin Hill’s big block up to the wall on Noah Gragson, and A.J. Allmendinger’s photo finish ahead of Sam Mayer left the end of the race caution free. Clements was surprised that the wreck didn’t come to give him another chance at a charge to the front.
“Yeah, I was surprised,” continued Clements. “You always expect the Big One here, and you didn’t see that today. This track is a lot wider and a lot easier to drive than Daytona and you got more room. I guess that’s why you saw that today, but I was shocked we didn’t see the Big One today.”
But the high banks of Talladega isn’t the only set of unknowns in this year’s Xfinity series Playoffs. The road courses have held their own share of chaos with driver’s being pushed wide on restarts and even a Big One at Road America earlier this year. For Clements, he knows he must be aggressive to charge for the win and advance into the next round of the Playoffs, but balancing wisdom with aggression is easier said than done.
“You just gotta give it all you got, but be patient at times,” said Clements, regarding his points positioning. “You can’t stick your nose in at certain times, I feel like, but a lot of those guys don’t have patience which is why you see some of these wrecks happen because you could have had some give and take, and it’s just all take. We’re going to fight like hell. It’s not over.”
It’s not over. There’s one more race for Clements to determine if he will advance or be eliminated from the Playoffs. When asked how he’s going to win at the Roval, he simply said:
“Give it all we got.”