From a three-hour rain delay to three overtime attempts amid a series of late carnages that eliminated numerous top contenders, Jeremy Clements thrusted himself into the main spotlight in an unexpected turn of events by winning the Wawa 250 at Daytona International Speedway between August 26-27.
The 37-year-old Clements from Spartanburg, South Carolina, led the final three of 118 over-scheduled laps after placing himself in prime position of contending for the win in the third and final overtime attempt, where he restarted alongside rookie Austin Hill on the front row. When Hill fell out of contention due to electrical issues prior to the restart, Clements found himself in the lead with drafting help from Sage Karam. Despite being challenged by AJ Allmendinger prior to the final lap, Clements was able to retain the lead and start the final lap when the event’s 10th and final caution flew as Riley Herbst spun in the frontstretch. With the event concluding under caution, Clements emerged as the upset winner of a wild event that commenced late Friday evening before concluding early Saturday morning. Clements’ first Xfinity victory in five seasons was also one that guaranteed him and his family-owned organization a spot in the 2022 Xfinity Series Playoffs.
With on-track qualifying that would have determined the starting lineup scheduled for Friday but canceled due to rain, AJ Allmendinger was awarded the pole position based on a metric formula per NASCAR’s rulebook. Joining him on the front row was Noah Gragson.
Prior to the event, Josh Williams dropped to the rear of the field as a result of a driver change, where he replaced Patrick Emerling in the No. 5 BJ McLeod Motorsports entry. Jesse Iwuji, Daniel Hemric and Justin Haley also dropped to the rear of the field following unapproved adjustments made to their respective entries.
When the green flag waved and the race started following a three-hour delay due to rain, Allmendinger received a push from Sam Mayer to launch ahead with an early lead through the first turn. He then moved from the outside to inside lane while fending off Mayer and Noah Gragson while Sammy Smith, who started fourth, was getting shuffled out of the lead draft.
Following the completion of the first lap, Allmendinger, who led the first lap, was ahead of Gragson and Mayer while Josh Berry was in fourth followed by rookie Sheldon Creed, Riley Herbst and the field fanning out to two tight-packed lanes.
On the fifth lap, Gragson overtook both Allmendinger and teammate Mayer in a three-wide move across the start/finish line to lead for the first time. With Gragson moving to the lead, Allmendinger found himself getting shuffled out of the lead and toward the bottom half of the top 10 while Gragson’s teammates, Mayer and Berry, moved into the top three.
Through the first 10 scheduled laps and with the field fanning out in a tight side-by-side pack towards the front, Gragson was leading ahead of teammates Berry and Mayer while Herbst and Ty Gibbs were in the top five. Creed was in sixth ahead of Brandon Jones, Myatt Snider, Allmendinger and Ryan Sieg while Brandon Brown, Landon Cassill, John Hunter Nemechek, Justin Haley and Daniel Hemric were in the top 15. By then, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Sammy Smith, Blaine Perkins, rookie Austin Hill and Jeb Burton occupied the top 20.
Five laps later and with Gragson continuing to lead, the first caution of the event flew. Sammy Smith, who was trying to carve his way back to the front after getting shuffled out early, spun and pounded the infield wall in Turn 4 as his first NASCAR national touring series event at Daytona came to an early end. During the caution period, some of the drivers, led by Gragson, pitted, while the rest, led by Berry, remained on the track.
As the race restarted on Lap 19 with Berry and Herbst occupying the front row, Herbst launched ahead with the lead following a push from the No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota Supra piloted by Ty Gibbs. Herbst then moved to the outside lane through the backstretch, which allowed Gibbs to rocket to the lead with a push from Creed as the field fanned out.
A lap later, the caution returned due to debris coming off of Kyle Sieg’s car. During the caution period, names like Jeb Burton, Berry, Haley, Sage Karam, JJ Yeley and Joe Graf Jr. pitted while the rest, led by Gibbs, remained on the track.
With six laps remaining in the first stage, the race proceeded under green. At the start, the Monster Energy competitors of Gibbs and Herbst dueled for the lead through the first two turns until Herbst received a push from Landon Cassill’s No. 10 Voyager Chevrolet Camaro to move ahead. With Gibbs fighting back on the inside lane, Herbst managed to lead the following lap before both Monster competitors dueled again for the lead.
During the following lap, Gibbs received a push from teammate Brandon Jones and Allmendinger to pull away from the field while Herbst was getting shuffled towards the rear of the top 10.
When the first stage concluded on Lap 30, Gibbs fended off the field over the previous five laps to claim his fourth stage victory of the 2022 season. Hill carved his way to the runner-up spot while Creed, Allmendinger, Berry, Brandon Jones, Justin Allgaier, Mayer, Haley and Ryan Sieg were scored in the top 10.
Under the stage break, a majority of the field led by Gibbs pitted while the rest led by Berry remained on the track. During the caution period, Hill and Caesar Bacarella made contact on pit road, resulting with Bacarella spinning his No. 45 Clear Cryptos Chevrolet Camaro into his pit box. In addition, Snider lost a fuel can while Stenhouse was penalized for speeding on pit road.
The second stage started on Lap 34 as Berry and Jeb Burton occupied the front row. At the start, Berry and Burton dueled for the lead through the first two turns and the backstretch until Berry received a push from Brandon Brown to retain the top spot while having both lanes to his control. Two laps later, Brown moved his No. 68 Larry’s Lemonade Chevrolet Camaro to the lead before Anthony Alfredo led during the following lap.
By Lap 40 and with the field fanning out through three tight-packed lanes, Alfredo was out in front followed by Allgaier, Gragson, Ryan Sieg and Mason Massey while Creed, Cassill, Brown, Allmendinger and Berry were in the top 10.
Five laps later, Allgaier, who assumed the lead on Lap 41, was leading ahead of Alfredo, Creed, Berry and Jeb Burton while Gragson, Gibbs, Herbst, Ryan Sieg and Stenhouse were in the top 10.
At the halfway mark on Lap 50, Alfredo and Allgaier engaged in a side-by-side battle for the lead with the field also fanning out between two and three tight lanes. Shortly after, Daniel Hemric pitted under green to address a flat tire.
Then on the final lap of the second stage, Creed, who was running in third, got turned by Allgaier as he spun his No. 2 Whelen Chevrolet Camaro below the backstretch apron. With the race remaining under green and Creed limping back to pit road, Gragson retained the lead ahead of the pack. He was also able to lead the field back to the frontstretch and claim his 11th stage victory of the season after winning the second stage on Lap 60. Alfredo, who led six laps during the second stage compared to Gragson’s 10, settled in second followed by Herbst, Mayer, Berry, Nemechek, Gibbs, Allgaier, Snider and Ryan Sieg.
Under the stage break, the majority of the field led by Allgaier pitted while names like Ryan Vargas, Jesse Iwuji, David Starr, Bayley Currey, Bacarella and Matt Mills remained on the track. Once the competitors who initially remained on track pitted prior to the restart, Gragson, who was the first competitor to exit pit road, was out in front.
With 36 laps remaining, the final stage started as Gragson and Herbst occupied the front row. At the start, Gragson received a push from teammate Allgaier to lead the field through the first two turns. Then through Turns 3 and 4, Gibbs moved into the runner-up spot as he settled behind Gragson’s No. 9 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet Camaro while Allgaier, Herbst and Brandon Jones occupied the top five.
With less than 30 laps remaining, Gragson was leading a long line of competitors running on the outside lane followed by Gibbs, Allgaier, Herbst, Nemechek, Allmendinger, Cassill, Brandon Jones, Stenhouse and Haley.
Shortly after, the caution flew when Herbst lost a left-rear tire before slipping sideways and spinning his No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang at over 100 mph through the infield backstretch grass. Despite looping his car wildly across the backstretch grass, Herbst managed to keep his car off the wall as he slowly limped his way back to pit road. During the caution period, names like Karam, Clements, Alex Labbe, Bayley Currey, Matt Mills, Bacarella, Joey Gase and Herbst pitted while the rest remained on the track.
Down to the final 24 laps of the event, the race restarted under green, At the start, Gragson and Gibbs battled for the lead through the first two turns until Gragson rocketed clear with the lead followed by teammate Allgaier and Allmendinger. Haley and Jeb Burton then moved into the top five through Turns 3 and 4 while Gibbs fell back to sixth.
With 20 laps remaining, Gragson continued to lead ahead of teammates Allgaier and Mayer while Allmendinger and Daniel Hemric were in the top five while running within a tight side-by-side pack. Scored in the top 10 were Haley, Hill, Gibbs, Creed and John Hunter Nemechek.
Two laps later, the caution flew when Nemechek slipped off the front nose of Brandon Brown through the backstretch as he spun and was hit by Creed, whose No. 2 Whelen Chevrolet Camaro slid back across the track and was T-boned by Joe Graf Jr.’s No. 07 Chevrolet Camaro. All three competitors involved in the carnage emerged uninjured.
With 13 laps remaining, the race proceeded under green. At the start, teammates Gragson and Allgaier battled for the lead until Gragson was shoved out in front and clear of the field by Allmendinger through the backstretch. Gragson then moved up the track to stall Allgaier’s momentum on the outside lane as he retained the top spot when the field returned to the frontstretch.
Down to the final 10 laps of the event, Gragson remained as the leader on the outside lane followed by Allmendinger, Allgaier, Mayer and Hemric while Austin Hill was trying to work his way to the front on the inside lane.
Then when the field returned to the frontstretch, the caution returned when Allmendinger got turned by Allgaier as both spun below the apron approaching Turn 1. Their spin triggered a chain reaction wreck as Mayer, Berry and Snider also spun below the apron while everyone else escaped. In the midst of the carnage, Hemric was scored in second behind Gragson while Brown, Sieg and Stenhouse were in the top five.
With four laps remaining, the race restarted under green. At the start, Gragson received drafting help from Brown and Hemric received drafting help from Ryan Sieg as all four dueled for the lead. Then through the backstretch, Hemric moved into the lead while Hill made a bold three-wide move on both Gragson and Ryan Sieg as he moved into third place.
During the following lap, Austin Hill assumed the lead as the competitors began to scramble towards the front. Through Turns 3 and 4, Cassill got into the wall after slipping in front of Jeb Burton as he fell off the pace with a flat right-front tire. With the race remaining under green, the caution then returned when Hemric spun while trying to block Gragson as a multi-car wreck erupted in the frontstretch that consumed Brandon Jones, Herbst, David Starr, Alfredo, Allgaier, Jeb Burton and Sage Karam. The multi-car wreck was enough to send the event into overtime.
At the start of the first overtime attempt amid a stacked restart with contact occurring towards the front, Gragson and Hill dueled for the lead. Not long after, the caution flew and the event was sent into a second overtime attempt when Herbst made contact with Brown through the backstretch as Brown spun and clipped Haley as Gibbs and Ryan Sieg were also clipped and sent spinning. This triggered another multi-car wreck that involved Alex Labbe, Bayley Currey, Caesar Bacarella, Josh Williams, Herbst, Jeb Burton, Kyle Sieg, Ryan Vargas and Stenhouse. In the midst of the incident, Allmendinger carved his way back to third behind Hill and Gragson while Timmy Hill, Clements and Karam were in the top six.
During the second overtime attempt, Hill retained the lead and moved up the track through the first two turns to block and stall Gragson’s momentum. Just then, the caution returned when Gragson got bumped and turned off the front nose of Allmendinger as he collided head-on into the outside wall on the backstretch. Gragson was then hit hard by Cassill and Myatt Snider, with Blaine Perkins, Hemric, Gibbs and Matt Mills all wrecking in the backstretch. With Hill leading and Allmendinger occupying the runner-up spot, names like Clements, Timmy Hill, Karam, JJ Yeley, Ryan Vargas, Kyle Sieg, Jesse Iwuji and Herbst were in the top 10.
Prior to the third overtime attempt, Allmendinger, who was in second, peeled to pit road after his No. 16 Action Industries Chevrolet Camaro ran out of fuel. In addition, Hill, who remained on the track as the leader, reported electrical issues to his No. 21 United Rentals Chevrolet Camaro as he kept his car running below the apron through the turns and shaking it back and forth to keep it under race pace.
Then at the start of the third overtime attempt, Hill’s electrical issues knocked him out of contention as he was unable to launch on the restart. This allowed Clements to take the lead followed by Karam through the first two turns. Meanwhile, Allmendinger, who emerged in fourth place through the first two turns, began his dash back to the front as he pushed Brown while closing in on both Clements and Karam. Through the backstretch and entering Turns 3 and 4, Karam was shuffled back to fifth while being overtaken by Brown, Allmendinger and Timmy Hill. In addition, Allmendinger overtook Brown for the runner-up spot as he then made his move beneath Clements for the lead.
With the leaders approaching the frontstretch to start the final lap, contact from Karam sent Herbst, who joined the battle, spinning towards the pit road entrance before he came back across the track and was dodged by the field. By then, Clements’ No. 51 One Stop/ASE Chevrolet Camaro managed to fend off Allmendinger as he took the white flag and started the final lap. A few seconds later, the caution flew and the race was deemed official, thus handing Clements the victory.
With the victory, Clements achieved his second career win in the Xfinity Series and his first since claiming his first series win at Road America in August 2017. In addition to becoming the 127th different competitor to win multiple Xfinity events, he became the eighth series regular to win throughout the 2022 Xfinity Series regular-season stretch and secure a spot for the 2022 Xfinity Series Playoffs that will commence in mid-September.
“I’m speechless, man,” Clements said on USA Network. “I don’t even know what to say. That’s incredible, man. We were as fast as Xfinity internet and it feels so good. We survived that big wreck back there somehow. It was like a Days of Thunder wreck. Then I was like, ‘Well, if we can just keep up with these guys, it’ll be a good day.’ Top five and bring this car home in one piece, and that’s a good day. Wow, this is incredible. Thank you, [fans], so much for sticking around. I know it’s late as hell. It’s time to drink a beer!”
“I just, honestly, didn’t have the car to get up there,” Clements added. “I had a car to just stay with the pack. I couldn’t really get in there. I’d have to have somebody pushing me. Just trying to be aggressively cautious and it worked for once. I’ve done a lot of these speedway races and a lot of them haven’t worked out. I guess we finally got one. It’s incredible to win at Day-freaking-tona, man! Holy crap! Wow!”
In the midst of the carnage and unexpected turn of events capped with a surprise winner, Timmy Hill claimed a career-best runner-up result followed by Allmendinger, who maintained his lead in the regular-season standings. Brandon Brown and Sage Karam finished in the top five while Ryan Vargas, Ty Gibbs, Alex Labbe, JJ Yeley and Kyle Sieg completed the top 10 on the track.
There were 19 lead changes for 12 different leaders. The event featured 10 cautions for 41 laps.
With three races remaining in the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series regular-season stretch, AJ Allmendinger continues to lead the regular-season standings by 58 points over Ty Gibbs, 80 over Justin Allgaier and 115 over Noah Gragson.
Ty Gibbs, Noah Gragson, Justin Allgaier, AJ Allmendinger, Josh Berry, rookie Austin Hill, Brandon Jones and Jeremy Clements are currently guaranteed spots for the 2022 Xfinity Playoffs based on winning once throughout the regular season stretch while Riley Herbst, Sam Mayer, Daniel Hemric and Landon Cassill occupy the remaining vacant spots to the Playoffs based on points. Ryan Sieg trails the top-12 cutline by 12 points, rookie Sheldon Creed trails by 55, Anthony Alfredo trails by 91 and Brandon Brown trails by 98.
1. Jeremy Clements, three laps led
2. Timmy Hill
3. AJ Allmendinger, four laps led
4. Brandon Brown
5. Sage Karam
6. Ryan Vargas, one lap led
7. Ty Gibbs, 11 laps led, Stage 1 winner
8. Alex Labbe
9. JJ Yeley
10. Kyle Sieg
11. Jesse Iwuji
12. Myatt Snider
13. Justin Allgaier, 11 laps led
14. Austin Hill, 18 laps led
15. Riley Herbst, two laps led
16. Joey Gase, two laps down
17. Blaine Perkins, two laps down
18. Josh Berry, three laps down, six laps led
19. Daniel Hemric – OUT, Dvp, one lap led
20. Brandon Jones, four laps down
21. Jeb Burton, five laps down
22. Noah Gragson – OUT, Accident, 52 laps led, Stage 2 winner
23. Landon Cassill – OUT, Accident
24. Matt Mills – OUT, Accident
25. Justin Haley – OUT, Accident
26. Ryan Sieg – OUT, Accident
27. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – OUT, Accident
28. Caesar Bacarella – OUT, Accident
29. Josh Williams – OUT, Accident
30. Bayley Currey – OUT, Accident
31. David Starr – OUT, Accident
32. Anthony Alfredo – OUT, Accident, eight laps led
33. Mason Massey – OUT, Engine
34. Sam Mayer – OUT, Accident
35. John Hunter Nemechek – OUT, Accident
36. Sheldon Creed – OUT, Accident
37. Joe Graf Jr. – OUT, Accident
38. Sammy Smith – OUT, Accident
Next on the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule is the series’ second trip of the season to Darlington Raceway in Darlington, South Carolina, on Saturday, September 3, during Labor Day weekend. The event is scheduled to occur at 3 p.m. ET on USA Network.