BRISTOL, Tenn. — Jeremy Clements, reinstated for this weekend’s Jeff Foxworthy’s Grit Chips 300 Nationwide race after completing a sensitivity training program mandated by NASCAR, said his use of a racial slur was completely out of character for him.
“It doesn’t represent who I am or how I was raised,” Clements said. “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
“I made a remark that has no place in our society, (whether I was) kidding or not. “NASCAR did what they had to do. I respect their decision. … 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.”
Reading a formal apology, then answering reporters’ questions with sincerity, Clements called it “a challenging time” for him. He thanked other drivers for their support, expressed a willingness to chat with Nationwide driver Darrell Wallace as well as other African-Americans who might have concerns, and do “anything to right the wrong.”
“I had a lot of time to think about my action,” he said. “I wasn’t thinking. As soon as I (said it) I knew I’d messed up, but it was too late and I just kept talking. It was stupid. … I want to grow from it and help other people from it.”
Wearing his St. Jude’s Research Hospital fire suite, Clements said he rejected a sponsor’s offer to pay $2,500 for his individualized sensitivy program with Dr. Richard Lapchick and his staff at the National Consortium for Academics and Sorts.
Worse than his fine was missing a race, said Clements, who remains on probation until Sept. 13. “Anytime a race car driver gets sat out any amount of time it is the worst thing that can happen to anybody,” he said “(You) don’t want to watch anybody drive your car when you are supposed to be in it.”