Jeremy Clements is back in the NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs.
Clements won at Daytona in August to earn himself a playoff bid in NASCAR’s second-tier series. But his car failed a post-race inspection. NASCAR rescinded the playoff berth that came with the win and docked Clements 75 points.
His family-owned team immediately appealed NASCAR’s decision and a NASCAR appeals panel ruled Tuesday that Clements and his team shouldn’t have been penalized.
NASCAR said that Clements’ car had violated the rules regarding intake manifolds. The infraction was found at NASCAR’s R&D Center and not at the track. Had the infraction been found at the track, Clements would have been disqualified from the race. While the discovery at the R&D Center meant that Clements officially kept the win, the 75-point penalty was far bigger than the points deduction he would have received from a disqualification.
The overturned penalty means that Clements is now safely in the NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs heading into the regular-season finale at Bristol on Friday night as one of eight drivers with wins during the regular season. Clements’ re-addition to the playoffs means that Landon Cassill is now currently the 12th and final driver into the playoffs. Cassill has a 19-point lead over Ryan Sieg for the final spot and a 32-point lead over Sheldon Creed.
Like the Cup Series playoffs, the Xfinity Series playoffs features multiple rounds. Four drivers will be eliminated after the first three races of the postseason and four more drivers will be eliminated after the following three races to leave four drivers to race for the title in the winner-take-all finale at Phoenix on Nov. 5.
It will be a surprise if Clements makes it out of the first round of the playoffs. He has just five top-10 finishes over the first 25 races of the season as his team doesn't have the financial resources of Cup-affiliated teams. But getting back to the playoffs is a financial boon for the team. By being a part of the 12-car playoff field, Clements' team will make more money from the NASCAR points fund at the end of the season than it would have by being on the outside.