In a NASCAR release on Wednesday night, the sanctioning body announced that it had suspended driver Jeremy Clements 'indefinitely'.
The suspension comes on the heals of allegations made against Clements that he used a racially insensitive remark when talking to reporters before Saturday's Nationwide race.
"During the course of an interview, Jeremy Clements made an intolerable and insensitive remark," said Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations in a release when the punishment was announced. "NASCAR has a Code of Conduct that's explicitly spelled out in the 2013 NASCAR Rule Book. We fully expect our entire industry to adhere to that Code."
In an interview with ESPN Thursday, Clements said that the comment was said in front of a NASCAR official and an MTV reporter on the way to fellow Nationwide driver Johanna Long's Hauler. Clements stated that the remark was made in a more general sense and not directed at any individual, though he refused to say what exactly was said.
Clements was asked: "Was it racial or not? Maybe not in context, but in term?" by ESPN on Thursday.
He replied: "Correct."
"When you say 'racial' remark, it wasn't used to describe anybody or anything," Clements told ESPN. "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."
Clements also told ESPN that the remark wasn't recorded and even though there was only two witnesses, he didn't hesitate to tell NASCAR the truth of the matter.
According to Clements, he got a call from NASCAR asking if he had used the word, and he said "Yes, I did."
"Because I was an honest person," he said to ESPN. "There was just three people standing there when I said this. And it was me, a girl that works for NASCAR and the MTV guy. There was no cameras. No recording. No nothing."
Clements stated in the interview that he will miss at least two races for violating Sections 7-5 (NASCAR's Code of Conduct) and 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing). He will also be required to complete sensitivity training before he receives any consideration for reinstatement.
Clements, 28, has three top-10s on the circuit he has been racing off and on since 2003. He issued the following statement on his Facebook page Wednesday night:
"I apologize and regret what I said to the NASCAR writer and to NASCAR, my sponsors, my fans, and my team. NASCAR has a Code of Conduct that everyone must follow and I unintentionally violated that code. I will not get into specifics of what I said but my comment to the writer was in no way meant to be disrespectful or insensitive to anyone or to be detrimental to NASCAR or the NASCAR Nationwide Series. I will do what I need to do in order to atone for my error in judgment."
James LeBeau is a contributor for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @JleBeau76 or subscribe on Facebook.com/CraveOnlineSports.
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