By: Zach Catanzareti, Staff Writer
Jeremy Clements was the lone small team in the 2021 Xfinity Series Playoffs. And unfortunately for the veteran, he is the first to leave.
Following a 12th-place finish Saturday at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, Clements was eliminated from the 12-driver playoffs. With an accident and mechanical failure in the previous two races, Saturday was a must-win to advance.
“We got in a big wreck at Las Vegas, broke the rocker arm at Talladega. After that, you’re just in a huge hole,” Clements said. “We knew we had to come here to win, but that’s a tall feat for a small team.
“If we could have raced like this in the other two races, who knows? It is what it is. We’re just a small team battling to stay here and be the best we can. We’re going to try to figure out how to get faster and race these bigger teams for next year.”
Though his playoff run is over, a playoff spot is a victory in itself for the No. 51 Chevrolet. His only career win in 2017 punched his ticket into that year’s playoffs where this season, however, saw consistency do the trick.
With a career-high numbers in top-10 finishes [seven], average finish [16.1], lead-lap finishes  and championship standing [12th], Clements has quietly assembled a career-high season.
“I’m very proud of it. We’ve gotten better and better,” he said. “We run on a 1/16th of the budget the big teams run. [They have] $100,000 a race we have more like $20,000. It’s a big difference.
“If we can run with them, compete and be the first non-big team and get top 10s, those are big days. I want to win bad, we’ve done it before, I want to do it again. We’re gonna keep trying to build on it. It takes a lot of work.”
With silly season underway across NASCAR’s national series, Clements believes he will be back full-time in 2022.
“I would say so. I don’t see it changing,” he said of his outlook on ’22. “I know the Xfinity Series is going to be even tougher next year — I’m hearing some more teams are coming in which… I don’t really like to hear that if they’re big teams. Those guys are hard to compete with.”