Keselowski a Twitter sensation
Tweets from track during delay
When the drivers pulled to a stop after a massive fireball engulfed a safety truck and delayed the Daytona 500, Brad Keselowski reached into the pocket of his fire suit and pulled out his phone.
Trying to kill time while fire and foam covered the track, Keselowski started tweeting from his car, providing updates from the track, posting pictures, even answering questions from fans.
By the time the night was over, Keselowski’s Twitter followers had ballooned from 65,000 to 200,000.
With a few pecks of a tiny keyboard, Keselowski had become a Twitter sensation, a NASCAR innovator and the central figure in a debate over whether cellphones should be allowed in cars during races.
“I didn’t put it (his phone) in the car thinking that we were going to have a red flag at Daytona for a guy hitting a jet dryer and causing an explosion,” Keselowski said, drawing laughter. “I didn’t have that much foresight. That was just kind of how the story all played out. You just can’t plan moments like that – they just happen.”
How it came to happen goes back more than four years.
Racing for Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Fontana, Calif., Keselowski was involved in a serious accident and airlifted from the track. Strapped down in a helicopter, he had no clothes, no phone, no wallet, no family – they were back in Michigan – and no idea where he was.
“As far as I knew, I was like in an Army test lab,” he said.
Keselowski can joke now, but it was a difficult experience. Not only was he helpless and lost, he couldn’t tell his mother that he was all right until hours after the accident, when a public relations person with the team let him borrow her phone.
Since then, Keselowski has kept his phone in a pocket of his fire suit every race since.
It came in handy when he was involved in another serious accident at Road Atlanta last year and was able to call him mom right away, as well look up his location on a map application.
“From that moment on, I decided I was going to keep my phone with me in the race car,” Keselowski said.
Keselowski’s latest use for his phone – red-flag updates – has stirred a debate as to whether phones should be allowed in the cars during races.
NASCAR rules prohibit teams from having recording devices in the car that are not for competition purposes, and two-way communication devices are supposed to be analog only. On Tuesday, NASCAR said it found nothing wrong with Keselowski’s tweeting during the Daytona 500 and encouraged drivers to use social media, as long as they were being safe.
The question for some drivers is that now it’s started, how long before someone takes it too far?
“Where does it end?” Denny Hamlin asked. “Do you text or Tweet during cautions and then you look up and run into the guy behind you? There’s certain parameters we’ve got to all play in, but if I’m thinking about winning the race, I’m not thinking about social media when I’m under that green flag or yellow flag or any of those conditions.”
Martin wins pole
Mark Martin followed a solid run at the Daytona 500 by capturing the pole at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Ariz., on Saturday, for today’s Subway Fresh Fit 500, a 312-mile race around the mile oval.
Martin finished 10th at Monday night’s fiery and foaming Daytona 500 and kept his roll going, capturing his 52nd career pole with a top speed of 136.81 mph.
Sadler ends drought
Elliott Sadler took the lead after a late caution and held on down the stretch to earn his first Nationwide win in 14 years at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday.
A former full-time driver in the Sprint Cup series, Sadler started eighth and didn’t get near the lead until the end of the race.
He passed Brad Keselowski after a caution with 33 laps left and wasn’t really challenged on the way to his sixth career Nationwide win – first in 91 races in the series.
IndyCar denies boycott
IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard says the series will race as planned at Texas this season, and there was never talk about a driver boycott.
Rumors of a possible boycott stem from the drivers’ concern about the fencing at Texas. Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon was killed in an October crash when his head hit a post in the fence at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The fence at Texas is constructed the same way, with the posts inside the mesh wiring.