The mix of high-intensity and fully focused veteran drivers within Citrus County Speedway’s Super Late Model division can be intimidating for new and up-coming drivers.
That is, unless you are Kristen Clements.
Twenty-eight cars strong, the division has its share of talent.
“I’ve been in the top 10 so far every week,” Clements said.
Clements first entered the local race arena in the Mod Mini division in a one-shot deal that left her out of the race before it even started.
Since then, she has put in hundreds of laps in the Truck and Super Late Model divisions. And, at age 21, Clements has undoubtedly taken on a role of stature amongst the 28-car division.
In her first attempt this season she posted third for her effort.
“I was ecstatic because that is the best I had finished in that car,” the 21-year-old said.
Defending SLM champion Jared Irvan beat Patrick Staropoli to the stripe with Clements following in third.
There has only been one event since then, a SLM doubleheader that featured the division in two 50-lap events on the same night.
“We were struggling a little bit that day,” she said.
The first race she scored eighth of 18 cars.
George Gorham Jr. won that event over Michael Hinde, Daniel Webster, Michael Goddard, Jared Irvan, Michael Atwell and Scott Grossenbacher. All have strong histories at the Inverness venue.
The second race she finished ninth.
“Something broke on the rear after the first race, and we just tried driving with it,” she said.
Atwell scored the win with Gorham, Hinde, Webster, Goddard, Grossenbacher, Bryton Horner and Ricky Anderson in tow. Clements followed ahead of five other lead-lap cars.
Clements is sixth overall in the standings going into tonight’s event, despite missing the first race.
“I’m shocked,” she said.
Clements is not new to the racing scene. As with most young drivers, she started in go karts at the age of five and won multiple titles over the next four years.
She’s raced at Auburndale Speedway in Mini Stocks, Mod Minis, and can currently be found in the Truck series.
She made a failed attempt in the Mod Mini division her first night out, but came back with a vengeance in Mini Stocks, Trucks and Super Late Models.
She is currently fourth overall in the Pro Truck series with one top-three finish.
In addition to Saturday’s SLM 50, drivers in the Signsfast Pure Stock 50, Crockett’s Towing Ford Outlaw 25, Little Gator Motorsports Legend Cars Twin 25s, Mod Mini 25 and the Mini Cup 20 will take to the quarter-mile asphalt oval.
Citrus County Speedway is located two miles south of Inverness on U.S. 41 at the Citrus County Fairgrounds. A complete schedule of events can be found at countyspeedwayandtrack.com or by calling 352-341-5764.