Ross Chastain: Punch was 'reaction to getting grabbed' from behind

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- It isn't rare for drivers to get mad with each other at Bristol Motor Speedway, but Xfinity Series driver Jeremy Clements had to make a trip to the track medical center after he was punched Saturday during the Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300.

Clements was decked in the face by Ross Chastain after the red flag came out for rain at Bristol. Clements spent much of the 98-minute stoppage in the care center as his eye was treated for swelling.

Clements after the race said he was fine. He had approached Chastain from behind and grabbed him by the shoulder, turning him around in an attempt to talk to him about the way he had raced him on the track.

"I had no intention of hitting him," Clements said. "He turned around and socked me. It's kind of uncalled for, for sure. I had no intention of fighting the guy -- I just wanted to know why he has to race like that every single week."

Both drivers race for teams with minimal funding and are known to make the most of it. Clements is 19th in the series standings, and Chastain is 21st. Clements drives for his family-owned team, and Chastain drives for JD Motorsports, but Chastain said his team gets its engines from Clements.

NASCAR talked to both drivers after the race. Any penalties would be determined later this week, although NASCAR didn't penalize Kyle Busch for trying to punch Joey Logano earlier this year.

"We're good," Chastain said after the meeting in the hauler. "It's been three years of running together and against each other, and we had our difference over time on and off the track. It was a reaction on my part. I've never punched anybody in my life. It's the first time I've ever hit anybody.

"I told him it was a reaction to getting grabbed. I don't know what I'd do if I could do it over again. I can't let people come up and grab me. It's happened to me before in NASCAR and out of NASCAR, and I felt like I had to stand my ground."