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Jeremy Clements: Hawkeye system will keep big teams from doing ‘trick stuff’ to get ahead

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Jeremy Clements and his family owned Xfinity Series team been doing a lot of “running around” in the weeks leading up to the 2018 season.

Clements’ team has been “burning some gas” as they get their No. 51 Chevrolet compatible with NASCAR’s new Hawkeye inspection system, which will debut at Daytona International Speedway.

“Coming from a small team, going to that (Hawkeye system), we’ve been to that of course (at the NASCAR Research and Development Center),” Clements said Saturday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Front Stretch.” “Our cars all failed like first time, each time. We had to go back to the body guy. He had to take another swing at it and he got her fixed up. It’s definitely been tough at first to be honest. We don’t have any of that stuff.”

Ryan Newman said at the NASCAR Media tour that Richard Childress Racing spent $350,000 to install its own Hawkeye inspection rig at its shop in Welcome, North Carolina.

The process includes 17 cameras and eight projectors that will produce a 3D model of the car. That is then compared to the CAD model of the car to determine how far away it is from the tolerance.

Without anywhere near the kind of funding RCR enjoys, JRC has trekked to NASCAR’s R&D center to become familiar with the process.

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But unlike most teams, Clements’ isn’t based in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area and neither is their body specialist.

The team’s shop is based out of Spartanburg, South Carolina, a 75-mile trip one way from Charlotte. The specialist is near RCR’s shop, which is roughly an hour northeast of Charlotte.

“He’s up a good ways,” Clements said. “We’ve been running around a lot lately. My guys have been working a lot of hours and going back and forth. It’s been a problem for sure, but I think it’ll get better for sure. Too early to tell right now … It’s going to take it a few races to get all sorted out.”

When it is firmly established, Clements believes it will “level the playing field” for small teams like his, which earned its first NASCAR win last year at Road America and made the Xfinity playoffs.

“I don’t think they (big teams) can do all the trick stuff they were doing,” Clements said. “Now I’m sure they’ll figure out other ways to do other things, but that’s the name of the game.”

The new inspection process isn’t the only new element NASCAR has introduced that Clements’ team will have to adapt to.

NASCAR is limiting the number of pit crew members allowed over the wall during pits stops from six to five. It has also mandated the use of standardized pit guns over a guns created by teams.

Clements sees the standardized pit gun as significant move that will help his team.

“That’s good because that was getting kind out of hand,” said Clements, who estimated the team must pay $300 to rent a gun. “Only drawback to that is just, I hate to say it, but the money we got to spend for that.

“We’re trying not trying to spend in every direction, but that’s the only negative to that part. But I like that the guns are supposed to be all equal because they were definitely getting out of hand.”

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Jeremy Clements’ Xfinity win a rare one for independent teams (video)

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Sunday’s win by Jeremy Clements at Road America was a big deal, not just for his family team, but in the larger picture of Xfinity Series racing.

When Clements took the checkered flag ahead of Michael Annett and Matt Tifft, Jeremy Clements Racing became just the second independent Xfinity team with no alliance to a Cup team to win in recent years.

Clements’ team joined Biagi-DenBeste Racing, which has won twice in the last two seasons with Aric Almirola. Almirola took their No. 98 Ford to victory lane earlier this year at Talladega and in July 2016 at Daytona.

But it’s been a decade since a driver with no Cup experience won a Xfinity race on a team with no Cup ties.

Before Clements, the last time it happened was with David Gilliland in 2006. Driving for Clay Andrews Racing, Gilliland won at Kentucky Speedway on June 17, 2006.

Gilliland would make his Cup debut a week later at Sonoma Raceway and then debut with Robert Yates Racing in August. Andrews would shut his team down at the end of the year.

In 2006, Clements was 21 and had only made one of his 256 Xfinity Series starts.

Now with his Xfinity win, Clements hopes some bigger teams were paying attention

“Our budget a year is a fraction of a big teams’,” Clements told NBC. “This is just a dream come true. I want to drive for a big team, but it hasn’t been the way it’s gone. I try to keep doing this, to keep my name out here getting as much experience as I can in case I do get the call. To any big team guys. Look at me. Let’s go.”

On NASCAR America, Jeff Burton and Parker Kligerman discussed what Clements’ achievement represents about the state of Xfinity Series.

“This is really what the Xfinity Series is supposed to be about,” Burton said. “It’s supposed to be about drivers having an opportunity, team owners having an opportunity to compete at a very high level. They (Jeremy Clements Racing) run this team much like race teams were run 15 years ago, 20 years ago. … A lot is said about Cup drivers in the Xfinity Series. But really, the issue is the technology that’s in the Xfinity Series. Unfortunately, I think Pandora’s Box has been opened and it’s really hard to get it shut.”

Watch the video for the full segment on Jeremy Clements’ win.