Race Weekend Central

Xfinity Breakdown: Jeremy Clements, Playoff Driver

Yes, you read that right.

After one of the longest rain delays I can remember, Jeremy Clements won the NASCAR Xfinity Series’ Wawa 250 at Daytona International Speedway under caution after just about all of the field was involved in one wreck or another.

Timmy Hill, AJ Allmendinger, Brandon Brown and Sage Karam rounded out the motley crew of a top five, but it was Clements who stole the show as he secured his first win since 2017 at Road America.

Several others had impressive performances, including Jesse Iwuji almost managing a top 10 and Ryan Vargas bringing his ride home in sixth. However, there’s plenty more you’ll need to get caught up to speed.

The Winners

Any fan who stayed up to watch that race is a better one than me, and for that, you get the No. 1 spot on our winners list this week.

See also
Brandon Brown's Future Left Uncertain With Fourth-Place Finish at Daytona

The green flag dropped at a little after 10:30 p.m. ET and didn’t finish until around 1:30 a.m. That’s a long time to wait when you figure in that qualifying was supposed to start earlier that day at 3 p.m. That didn’t stop the best fans in motorsport from making their presence felt, though.

As evidenced by the video, there were still plenty of fans in the grandstands for the late night affair, and those that stayed until the end bore witness to one of the reasons NASCAR is so widely loved: the underdog victory.

Speaking of underdogs, Hill and Vargas did their fair share of work at the World Center of Racing. They led the top 10 in terms of place differential starting 37th and 36th, respectively. The 100-lap race ended up going 118 during the duration of the three overtimes, and while the typical frontrunners fans are used to couldn’t make it work, Vargas and Hill sure did, earning some of their best finishes of the season and careers.

The Losers

Why is that so important? Sheldon Creed still sat in 13th in the points standings before the race, right outside the bubble for the playoff-bound top 12. While he’s still 13th, Anthony Alfredo has three races to gain on him. If Creed doesn’t snag a win or pick up the pace soon, 14th-place Alfredo could sneak past him and secure a spot for himself.

For one of the few instances this season, it wasn’t a great day at the office for JR Motorsports. The highest finisher of the JRM crew was Justin Allgaier in in 13th, with the lowest being Sam Mayer in 34th. JRM will still be very much present in the playoffs, but here toward the end of the season, teams need momentum, and that was certainly not what was achieved at Daytona.

Scheme of the Week

Josh Berry makes another appearance as our Scheme of the Week recipient, as his No. 8 TirePros Chevy has been repping the Summer for Heroes giving campaign, a campaign that benefits veterans, first responders and their families.

Not only is it a great cause, but it’s also a great scheme. The gold and red on top of the black make for a clean combination on what was already one of the best schemes on the circuit. My hat is off to the JRM team on this one.

Fuel for Thought

Last year, we saw Daniel Hemric go winless up until the final championship-clinching race at Phoenix. That was supposed to be the breakout. Now, though, we’re almost to the playoffs yet again and with no wins since.

Was it a fluke? And if so, how long of a rope do you give the guy if he just won a championship?

There’s no way this is the last we see of him, and he’s still in on points if the season ended today, but at what point does he find the groove and start winning? AJ Allmendinger has done it in nearly identical equipment, so if you’re Kaulig Racing, you have to expect more out of your championship-winning driver.

See also
Jeremy Clements Shocks What Was Left of the Daytona Field With 2nd Xfinity Win

The Playoff Pit

As the headline infers, Friday night did play a rather important part in the playoff picture with three races left until they begin. Clements stamped his spot in the final 12, closing the margin for error even more for the outliers in the back half of the 12.

That brings our total of winners to eight, cutting the at-large spots down to four. Currently, those four are Riley Herbst, Mayer, Hemric and Landon Cassill. The full points breakdown can be found here. 

Where to Next?

It’s yet another mile long name for a race up next, as the Xfinity series heads to Darlington Raceway for the Sports Clips Haircuts VFW Help a Hero 200. Allgaier snagged the win in the series’ last visit to Darlington, and he’ll undoubtedly be looking to repeat with the green flag dropping at a hopefully much earlier 3:30 p.m. ET.

That race can be found Saturday, Sept. 3, and will be aired on the USA Network, the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR.

About the author

Tanner Marlar is a staff writer for On3 Sports' Maroon and White Daily covering Mississippi State Athletics, an AP Wire reporter, an award-winning sports columnist and talk show host and master's student at Mississippi State University. Soon, Tanner will be pursuing a PhD. in Communicative Research.

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Was there a caution that Riley Herbst wasn’t in?

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