Jeremy Clements met with members of the media at Bristol Motor Speedway and discussed his recent suspension, the support he has received from other drivers and much more. FULL TRANSCRIPT
ADDRESSING THE MEDIA IN REGARDS TO THE REASON FOR HIS SUSPENSION:
“I want to start out by saying I made a remark that has no place in our society, kidding or not. I want to apologize to NASCAR, the reporter, my team, my family, my sponsors and of course all the fans out there. I didn’t mean to offend anybody at all. I’m sorry I let you all down. It doesn’t represent who I am or how I was raised. My Grandpa Crawford Clements who I looked up to and respected and got me started racing when I was seven was a crew chief for Wendell Scott in 1965. I was raised to respect everybody. It has been a challenging time for me. I want to grow from it and help other people from it. Anytime a race car driver gets sat out any amount of time it is the worst thing that can happen to anybody. I don’t want to watch anybody drive your car when you are supposed to be in it driving. I had a lot of time to think about my action. I want to thank Dr. (Richard) Lapchick and his team for their time and helping me learn. I’m excited to be back here at Bristol and get a chance to race again. Hopefully, put all this behind me and move on."
HOW DIFFICULT HAS THIS BEEN FOR YOU?
“It’s been extremely difficult time. At first it really hit me hard. When I got the call from NASCAR I was definitely shocked. They had called me and asked me if I did say that remark. I was honest with them and owned up for it which I think anybody should have done. I took my punishment and I have done everything I can to make it right and try to move on and make all this better. But, it’s been very tough on me. I’m just so happy to be back and just be able to race again."
HAS THIS AFFECTED YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH SPONSORS?
“Yes and no, most of them have been behind me. I’ve had one pull out on us, but we have a lot of support. We have our car filled up this weekend and just very grateful for guys like Jim Sealy of US Petroleum for helping us and sticking through it with us."
HAVE YOU HEARD FROM OTHER DRIVERS? HAVE YOU GOT SOME SUPPORT FROM OTHER DRIVERS?
“Yeah, Michael McDowell, Josh Wise, Justin Allgaier, I can just sit here and name a bunch of them. They have all had my back. Like I said it doesn’t represent who I am or what I’m about. I have done a lot of stuff as you can see we have St. Jude on our hood, wearing a St. Jude suit. It has no representation of who I am. Hopefully, I just want to get that out of the way and make it right and show who I really am."
WHY DID YOU USE THE WORD IN THE FIRST PLACE?
“I wasn’t thinking honestly. I was just walking along trying to help the guy find somebody else. I just blurted it out. As soon as I did I knew I didn’t do good. I knew I messed up, but it was too late and I just kept talking. It was stupid."
WHAT DID DR. LAPCHICK HAVE YOU DO?
“We went through a day’s worth of studying different things, a lot of different meanings of different words where they came from, who they offend and why you shouldn’t say them. You know you sit out here and talk to people all the time and make jokes. Somebody could say something offensive and you might not say anything, but from now on I’m going to stand up and be like ‘man that isn’t something you should say’ and try to pass along what I learned."
HAS DARRELL WALLACE OR ANY OF THE SCOTT’S OR ANY AFRICAN AMERICAN’S INVOLVED IN THE SPORT REACHED OUT TO YOU IN THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS?
“I hadn’t talked to any of them. I don’t even have Darrell’s number or anything. This is first time I have been back to the track. If I definitely do pass Darrell I would love to talk to him. I’ve had a lot of my friends call me that are African American and tell me ‘dude that is no way that is you’. I had my support and it’s been great honestly. I’ve had a ton of support."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE BEEN TREATED FAIRLY WITH THE SUSPENSION?
“NASCAR did what they had to do. I respect their decision and like I said I did everything they wanted me to do. Anything to right the wrong, took the suspension, took the class, and apologized to the reporter and of course all the fans out there. I didn’t mean to offend anybody. I just want to try to move on now."
YOU HAD TO PAY FOR THE CLASS YOURSELF IS THAT CORRECT?
“Yeah, it was the right thing to do. I had a sponsor offer to pay for it, but I declined that. I just felt like I needed to do that."
HOW MUCH WAS IT?
“$2500 and then obviously missing racing you don’t get paid and the drivers points it hurts a lot of things. We depend on that money at the end of the year for driver’s points to keep our team going. It hurts us in all aspects. It definitely doesn’t help us, but just want to make the best out of it and move on. Try to get us a top-10 here at Bristol."
YOU CHOSE RIGHT AWAY WHEN THE COMMENTS CAME OUT THAT YOU SAID YOU CAME OUT AND SAID ‘YES I SAID THIS’ IT WASN’T ON CAMERA. YOU DIDN’T DENY. DO YOU THINK IF YOU WOULD HAVE DENIED IT THAT THE SUSPENSION COULD HAVE BEEN LONGER?
“I don’t know. I don’t know how it would have been handled. I’m not sure I don’t even want to go back and look at it really. I just want to move on. It is what it is. I said it, I owned up for it so that was it. I didn’t have any thoughts of lying about it."
IN REGARDS TO THE AFFECT ON HIS CAREER:
“Obviously, the way our sport is unfortunately it’s not all about, but it’s a lot of who can bring the money to what team. We are here racing on a lot smaller budget than the guys up there that we race against. I would love to bring a ton of money to (Joe) Gibbs (Racing) or (Richard) Childress (Racing) or something, but the way it is just can’t. Obviously, hope that it doesn’t hurt my relationship with any of those teams and I think everybody deserves a second chance. I think you’ve got to look at the person’s history. I have never been in trouble with NASCAR. I always just try to do the right thing and just stay here and be able to race. I always try to get new fans coming and do anything NASCAR wants. I hope it doesn’t hurt. I don’t know."
DID YOU GO TO THE HOSPITAL IN DAYTONA AFTER THE NATIONWIDE ACCIDENT?
“No, I went before. I went Wednesday when I got there. I had been the past two years and I go to the kids ward up there and visit the sick kids. I like doing that. I don’t do it because of anything else, but I just like to. I was asked to come back Sunday. I was already home and we were working on our cars to go to (Las) Vegas and Phoenix so I didn’t have a chance to come back. That is originally what I thought because they kept calling me wanting me to come. I just said there is no way and then he called me again Sunday night and left me two messages. That is when I was in Church. I got out of Church and I was like ‘this isn’t good this is something else’. Then I was like ‘oh no’, it’s funny how all that works."