NASCAR indefinitely suspended Nationwide Series driver Jeremy Clements Wednesday for violating the sanctioning body’s code of conduct.
Clements finished 33rd in Saturday’s Nationwide race at Daytona International Speedway. During an interview Clements said something to a reporter, what that was hasn’t been released. But according to NASCAR Clements violated Sections 7-5 (NASCAR’s Code of Conduct) and 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing).
“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. “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.”
Clements himself wouldn’t go into detail as to what he said, merely issuing a statement and apology.
“I apologize and regret what I said to the NASCAR writer and to NASCAR, my sponsors, my fans, and my team,” he posted on his Facebook page.”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.”
Was NASCAR right in suspending a driver for saying something? Without knowing what was said that question may remain forever open ended. If the remark was made to reporter a driver has to understand that whatever is said will usually be on the record, unless it’s agreed to by both sides that the conversation is otherwise. If that remark was indeed intolerable and insensitive and was on the record, then just like any other pro sport, NASCAR has the right to control what is said about the sport; they have proven that over the past several year s that they will indeed punish those competitors who speak unfavorably.
However, some responsibility falls on the media, of which I am a part. Wanting to talk to a driver who has just climbed from a broken racecar, or who has just crashed out won’t always lead to positive comments about anything, much less the sport. While we need to report without bias, it doesn’t mean we can’t have respect. Respect enough to allow a driver time to collect their thoughts, and understand that the first words out of a driver’s mouth after climbing from a car might not be suitable to print. But without knowing what was said and when it was said for now it’s all just speculation. NASCAR or the driver may need to quell a PR firestorm with some sort sanitized version of what happened. For now all we can do is move forward and hope Jeremy Clements has learned his lesson and will be back racing soon.
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