Clements Misfortune Turns Into McDowell's Fortune
Two In A Row Brings Him Close To The Points Lead
Michael McDowell's #2 was the first to make it to the finish line... even though Jeremy Clements lead coming out of turn three. (ARCA Photos)
Disappointment, jubilation and frustration were just some of the words to help describe Saturday afternoon's wild ARCA RE/MAX Series Pennsylvania 200 at Pocono Raceway.
For Spartanburg, South Carolina's Jeremy Clements, bitter disappointment reigned; but for Phoenix, Arizona's Michael McDowell, jubilation was the order of the day.
Clements, in the Saxon Group-1 Stop Convenience Stores Chevrolet, was less than a straightaway from his career-first victory when the gas tank ran dry, handing the lead to McDowell, who crossed under the checkered flag as the winner with a flat left front tire.
"We were just as surprised as everyone else to win," said McDowell. "Our left front is flat; we couldn't have gone another lap. That last restart was really key. We drove around Marc Mitchell and Erin Crocker, which allowed us to catch up to Josh Wise. I think going into that tunnel turn side by side with him was about the hardest I had ever raced. It's really unfortunate for Jeremy Clements. You know we weren't exactly sure how he was going to stretch the mileage that far, but when he went into turn four we were like okay he's going to be able to make it. A disappointment for those guys for sure."
It was McDowell's second consecutive series victory, as he moved to within 20 points of Frank Kimmel in national championship points.
Clements not only gave up the victory, he also gave up second place to Josh Wise.
"It's so hard running these races, and we're just a small team," said a disappointed Clements after the race. "The pit crew had it figured out where if we had enough cautions we would make it but I guess they were wrong. It's so hard to out-run these Cup backed teams, and when you get a chance to win like that man it just kills you. There was just disbelief. Nothing really said--just a few cuss words. I turned my radio off and just hung my head."
Wise, who with three laps to go was racing Clements for the lead with McDowell immediately in tow, finished second giving Toyota its career-best series finish in the ESR Development Team-NAPA Toyota.
"It was crazy man," said Wise. "It was crazy throughout the race with some of the slower cars. My guys had awesome pit stops and I need to thank them. I hate it for Jeremy (Clements). He drove a heck of a race and man I really had to try hard to get to him. I'm happy for Michael (McDowell), my teammate. He did an awesome job there. Michael and I are under the understanding that we are going to race each other clean. It was a really fun race. It's been cool. I really feel like I should have won that race; I just lost momentum there. Jeremy [Clements] took his car right to the bottom and when he did that my car went up the track and I just lost momentum."
Erin Crocker finished fourth in the Evernham Motorsports Dodge, padding her point lead in the Superspeedway Challenge championship title fight.
Marc Mitchell, in the Ergon Chevrolet, finished fifth.
The event was caution-filled with nine cautions for 49 laps including a red flag for a multi-car pile-up in the Tunnel Turn on lap 56. Lebanon, Pennsylvania's Bobby Gerhart was transported to a local hospital for further evaluation. Phillip McGilton, Tom Berte and Joey Miller, all involved, were examined and released from the infield care center.
The eighth caution of the day came for Kimmel, who, after contact with AJ Henriksen just 12 laps from the finish, crashed hard in turn one. Both drivers were okay but unable to continue.
McDowell's second win in a row has him even closer to the points lead.
The unfortunate incident handed Kimmel a DNF in 25th position as well as a big backwards slide in points.
Hendrick Motorsports development driver Landon Cassill led the most laps, 36 in all, but finished a disappointing 32nd after the Fairfax, Iowa driver made contact with the turn one wall after cutting a left-front tire.
Clements was second in the lap-leader category with 33 laps led. Other lap leaders included Mike Harmon, Dominick Casola and Bobby Santos, III.
Santos also earned the SIM Factory Pole Award giving Toyota sole possession of the front row for the start. However, Santos' day ended on lap 42 after a bump from Josh Krug sent him into the turn one wall.
Justin Allgaier finished sixth in the AG Tech Chevrolet ahead of Dexter Bean, who raced from 33rd to seventh in the final running order. Dominick Casola finished a career-best eighth in the A. Casola Farms Ford over Krug, who steered the Bigford Enterprises-ARCASimRacing.com Chevrolet to a ninth place finish. Harmon, in the Richardson-Netzloff Chevrolet, finished 10th. Harmon, who started 25th, also earned the Hoosier Tire Hard Charger award for advancing the most positions.
In all, 21 cars finished on the lead lap.