Monday, February 6, 2023

Jeremy Clements loses Xfinity Series playoff berth after NASCAR rules Daytona-winning engine illegal

NASCAR announced Tuesday that Jeremy Clements Racing has been assessed an L2-level penalty after discovering the team had an illegal intake manifold in the engine used in their upset victory in last Friday’s Xfinity Series race at Daytona International Speedway. The penalty has resulted in Clements losing the Xfinity Series playoff berth he had earned as a result of the win.

Despite Clements’ car passing post-race tech inspection at Daytona, NASCAR discovered a violation of Sections 14.6.12K&U (Pertaining to the intake manifold and the floor of the intake manifold plenum) when the car’s engine was brought back to NASCAR’s Research & Development Center for a separate inspection. As a result, Clements’ win will no longer count toward playoff eligibility, meaning he goes from eighth on the playoff grid to 20th in points with three races left in the Xfinity Series regular season.

Clements has also been docked 75 driver points and 10 playoff points. His team has been docked 75 owners points, and crew chief Mark Setzer was fined $60,000. On Wednesday, the team announced that they would appeal the penalty, arguing that the deviation actually put them at a performance disadvantage because it restricted power to the motor.

It should be noted that unlike many independent teams that lease motors from larger teams and power plants, Jeremy Clements’ team builds their own engines. Tony Clements, Jeremy’s father and the team owner, is a famed engine builder at the dirt late model level and the owner of Clements Racing Engines.

The penalty to Clements’ team spoils what had been a massive upset and triumph for the small, family-owned race team based out of Spartanburg, S.C. Clements opted to bide his time and hang behind the lead pack for much of Friday night’s Wawa 250, a strategy which paid off when a series of multi-car accidents in the final laps significantly thinned the field and created three overtime periods.

Clements took the lead on the final restart then held off challenges from both Brandon Brown and AJ Allmendinger to score his second career victory in his 421st start. Clements’ victory highlighted a night that saw many small teams and underdog drivers finish in the top 10, including Timmy Hill in second, Brown in fourth and Sage Karam in fifth, among others.

Clements’ win had marked the second Daytona victory for his racing family. Jeremy’s grandfather, Crawford Clements, was the crew chief for A.J. Foyt when he won the Firecracker 400 at Daytona in 1964.

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