During a one-on-one interview with ESPN, Nationwide Series driver Jeremy Clements opens up about how he found himself suspended indefinitely by NASCAR. Clements claims his suspension was handed down after he used a racial remark in the presence of two other people.
Clements was pressed for more information.
“Was it racial or not? Maybe not in context, but in term?”
His reply was “Correct.”
“When you say ‘racial’ remark, it wasn’t used to describe anybody or anything,” Clements said. “So that’s all I’m going to say to that. And it really wasn’t. I was describing racing, and the word I used was incorrect and I shouldn’t have said it. It shouldn’t be used at all.”
Although NASCAR has refused to comment on the details of the suspension, they did say it was an “intolerable and insensitive remark” that violated the sanctioning body’s Code of Conduct for actions detrimental to stock car racing.
According to Clements, while exiting Daytona International Speedway meeting he was approached by a female NASCAR driver and a reporter with MTV. He claims the NASCAR employee asked him if he knew the location of driver Johanna Long’s transporter. Since he did he decided to escort the two of them.
“And while we’re walking they started, he [MTV] started, asking me questions,” Clements said. And it wasn’t recorded. We were just talking. So I said one remark about how I wouldn’t …”
He stopped short.
“I can’t say that part,” he said.
“That’s pretty much how it happened,” he continued. “And even after I said what I said, they still kept asking me questions. It didn’t seem like it was a big deal at all. I didn’t even think twice about it, like, after. I know I shouldn’t have said it. Even when I did say it, I shouldn’t have said it. But I didn’t think it was going to be a big deal.”
Clements credits his honesty to being the reason why this he is suspended. Upon leaving Sunday’s church service, Clements said he had two messages on his phone from NASCAR.
“I had two more messages and I was like, golly, something’s just not right,” he said. “So I called back, and the guy asked me point-blank: ‘Hey, did you say this word?’ And I said, ‘Yes, I did.’ I was being honest. I did. I messed up. It was just one word and it wasn’t about anybody. It wasn’t even used as that.”
“And then this hit me late Wednesday afternoon. I’ve known about it since Sunday night, when I got a phone call. But I did not think it was going to be like this. I just thought I’d be fined like most normal guys have been fined.
“But not suspended for this. But I’m going to do what they want me to do so I can get back in the car as soon as possible. I think it’s a little harsh, but it’s their rules. It’s their game.”
Clements is now suspended indefinitely facing a minimum of a two game suspension. Since then an official apology has been made as well.
Baring the facts presented by Clements himself, is the suspension warranted? Clements admits to using a racial slur. Initially he seemed to see no harm in the statement, but rather knew it was wrong to say what he said.However Clements rationalize his comments by saying it wasn’t used with ill intent and he only said it in the company of two other people. Does saying a racial word with no ill intent in the privacy of two other bystanders warrants a suspension, fine, or anything?