Nationwide Series driver Jeremy Clements elaborated Thursday on what led to his indefinite suspension from NASCAR competition.
Clements, who said he's suspended for at least two races, wouldn't reveal what comment he made, and paused when pressed as to whether it was racial in nature. Asked again, "Was it racial or not? Maybe not in context, but in term?" 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 said he used the word once on Saturday. As he was exiting the driver's meeting at Daytona International Speedway, he said a female NASCAR employee approached him with a reporter from MTV. Clements told ESPN that the NASCAR employee asked if he knew where to find driver Johanna Long's transporter, and he personally took the pair to the location.
When they were walking, he inadvertently used a word that he shouldn't have.
"That's pretty much how it happened," he said. "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 said he received multiple messages from officials, and was honest with them.
"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.
While admitting his mistake, Clements thought he might receive a fine, rather than a suspension.
"I did not think it was going to be like this," Clements told ESPN. "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."