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Jeremy Clements perseveres for first NASCAR win at Road America

Dave Kallmann, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on

Published in Auto Racing

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. -- Jeremy Clements epitomizes resilience and perseverance.

He nearly lost his right hand in 2004 when the driveshaft of his dirt late-model broke into the cockpit.

He rarely has driven frontline equipment in NASCAR and never has raced any. Everything in the Spartanburg, S.C., shop of his family-owned Xfinity Series team is a hand-me-down.

He missed two races in 2013, suspended by NASCAR after he used a racial epithet.

And yet Clements has soldiered on, fighting faithfully while also fearing any thoughts of success might only be a dream.

"It's a miracle," Clements said Sunday after that dream came true -- no, really -- in the Johnsonville 180 at Road America.

"The win is what you do it for. ... We don't get the big bucks like the other teams. We get a fraction of what they get maybe. And we just try to put it to the best use and try to stay here and keep doing it, and luckily it hasn't broke us yet."

In a 9-year-old car that may still have been bent from a crash three weeks ago at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Clements drove the race of his lifetime, gobbling up Matt Tifft's eight-second lead in five laps.

Then the 32-year-old Clements proved once again that nothing comes easily. He spun himself and Tifft with one lap to go before recovering to end a 255-race drought.

The lead Tifft and Clements had built over third place was so great that Clements was able to re-fire his engine and hold the lead on his way to a 5.802-second victory over Michael Annett.

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