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Joe Clemente on the Verge of First Dart NA 10.5 title

Joe Clemente on the Verge of First Dart NA 10.5 title


 
When Leonard Long won the first two races of the season in the Dart N/A 10.5 class, Joe Clemente didn’t panic, he simply continued to work hard and stay focused. Now, as the season draws to a close at the NMRA World Street Finals presented by Chevrolet Performance, Clemente finds himself on the verge of his first NMCA world championship.
 
“We’ve been able to hold our own this year and from day one, we’ve just told ourselves to keep doing what we’re doing,” said Clemente, who owns an authentic Italian delicatessen in Burlington Township, N.J. “I hate to toot our own horn but I don’t think you’ll find a harder working team out here. We don’t stop. We’ve just kept moving forward and I think that’s why were in the position we’re in now.”
 
Clemente’s race car is a ’93 Mustang that is maintained by Bruce Blair of Xtreme Fabrication. Blair is also responsible for the chassis and engine tuning while the power comes from a 408-cid small block Chevy built by former NHRA Pro Stock driver Tom Martino.
 
Clemente kicked off the season with a runner-up finish in Bradenton, but really hit his stride in the second half of the season when he went to the final of the Martin race and then followed with a victory at the NMCA All-American Nationals in Norwalk. Both events were completed in Norwalk after the Martin finals were delayed by weather.




 


“That race is what really made our season,” said Clemente. “We got a win and a runner-up on the same weekend and that’s why we’re in first place. Now, we just need to stay there.”
 
Clemente also notes that a mid-season switch to a Liberty transmission has improved his operation from both a performance and a reliability standpoint.
 
“Honestly, I think that if we had started the year with this the engine and transmission package that’s in the car now, this battle would be just about over. I don’t think it would be as close as it is now.”
 
Coming into Indy, Clemente has a 205 point lead over second-place Long and he’s 375 points clear of third-ranked David Theisen. On Friday, Clemente ran a 7.70 at 177.21, which is currently good for the No. 4 spot in the 14 car field. While his first championship is far from a given, he likes his chances.
 
“Honestly, we don’t really even count the points,” Clemente said. “We don’t talk about it too much. We just try to go out and do the best job we can at every event and the points will take care of themselves. I finished No. 3 last year so if it happens, this [championship] would be a big deal for us as a team. It would help to validate all the hard work we’ve done.”

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