News & Media

Twitter becomes hot topic for drivers at PIR

March 03, 2012, Jarrod Breeze,

AVONDALE, Ariz. -- Keselowski's first in-race tweet has others wondering if it opens 'Pandora's Box'

Move over, Brad Keselowski, and make room for Michael McDowell.

"Right front tire went down. We will have to go to a backup. Hopefully be ready for qual," McDowell tweeted to his Twitter account at 3:36 p.m. ET Friday at Phoenix International Raceway, shortly after hitting the frontstretch wall in the first practice session in preparation for Sunday's Sprint Cup Series race.

Twitter Handles

Sprint Cup Series
Marcos Ambrose@MarcosAmbrose
Trevor Bayne@Tbayne21
Greg Biffle@gbiffle
Jeff Burton@RCR31JeffBurton
Kurt Busch@KurtBusch
Kyle Busch@Kyle Busch
Landon Cassill@landoncassill
David Gilliland@DGilliland2010
Jeff Gordon@JeffGordonWeb
Robby Gordon@RobbyGordon
Denny Hamlin@dennyhamlin
Kevin Harvick@KevinHarvick
Jimmie Johnson@JimmieJohnson
Kasey Kahne@kaseykahne
Matt Kenseth@mattkenseth
Brad Keselowski@keselowski
Bobby Labonte@Bobby_Labonte
Joey Logano@Jlogano
Mark Martin@55MarkMartin
M. McDowell@Mc_Driver
Jamie McMurray@jamiemcmurray
Casey Mears@CJMearsGang
Juan Montoya@jpmontoya
Joe Nemechek@FrontRowJoe87
Ryan Newman@RyanNewman39
Danica Patrick@DanicaPatrick
David Ragan@David_Ragan
David Reutimann@DavidReutimann
Regan Smith@Regan_Smith_
Martin Truex Jr.@MartinTruexJr56
Michael Waltrip@mw55
J.J. Yeley@jjyeley1

Just how many other drivers follow Keselowski's lead in the real-time world of Twitter remains to be seen. But given Keselowski's propensity in the realm of social media, the 28-year-old driver already has established himself as a trend-setter, even if his fingers have to do all the talking.

Keselowski added to an already historic night-time Daytona 500 when he was the first to post photos of Juan Montoya's fiery crash into the back of a jet dryer on his Twitter account from his cell phone that he had with him inside the car. Just when you thought you had seen everything in NASCAR, Keselowski showed something completely new.

After the initial shock of Montoya's crash subsided, all -- drivers included -- were equally stunned by the notion of Keselowski racing with his cell phone in tow.

"My generation is obsessed with technology and access," said Keselowski, who has gained 160,000 followers since his famous tweet. "And you know to me, the things that I did on Twitter that night was something that I would want to see.

"I think at the end of the day, I'm just trying to show people what I would want to see if I was in their shoes."

NASCAR responded in kind, announcing Keselowski would not be penalized for his actions during the more than two-hour delay. "We encourage our drivers to use social media to express themselves as long as they do so without risking their safety or that of others."

And while most drivers were amused and/or pleased with Keselowski's fan-friendly connection, don't expect many of his more-seasoned compadres to take up the practice. In fact, many expressed a concern of what this "Pandora's Box," as referenced by Keselowski, might lead to in the future.

"I think the social media aspect of it, I thought was great for the sport; I think that it's awesome that NASCAR is really being that lenient," said a cautious Jeff Gordon, before adding: "I think that the technology of phones these days is growing rapidly that there could be some things that NASCAR might need to pay attention to that might need to keep the phones out of the car."

For most, that won't be a problem. Even for media savvy Carl Edwards.

"No, I am not going to jump on board the Twitter train but I think that anything that gets the fans excited is good," Edwards said. "I didn't realize we could have our phones in the car but honestly I won't be taking my phone in the car during the race. I will just say that. If it gets the fans excited, if it is something they enjoy, then I think the more power to the guys that are doing it. I think that is cool."

A key issue with toting a cell phone is NASCAR's rule prohibiting drivers from having communications with other drivers while in the car. Kyle Busch expressed a voice of reason, however.

"I don't think there's any merit there. You can't hold it and record or anything like that," Busch explained. "I don't think they [Keselowski] were doing anything that was out of the norm."

Dale Earnhardt Jr. echoed a similar sentiment. "I was surprised that he [Keselowski] would carry a phone in the car because you really can't use it. It didn't harm anybody, didn't bother anybody, so I don't see any problem with it."

Kevin Harvick joked he might find a useful, and advantageous way, of using his cell phone.

"I'm going to look for every app I can for mile-per-hour, GPS mapping, and anything I can find to put in my car. ... I have found a mile-per-hour app, so that'll be good down pit road," he said to a room full of laughter.

You might see Daytona 500 champion Matt Kenseth -- whose victory in some aspects was almost an afterthought when he brought the race to a conclusion in the wee hours of Tuesday morning -- on Twitter ... in his off hours.

"I think there's got to be a line where I don't do it or it doesn't take any focus off of the racing," Kenseth said. "I think during the week or on Saturday night if you're sitting in your motorhome not doing anything, I think there's a lot of good times, for me ... and I can interact with [fans] or tweet something that's funny or cool that I saw.

"Everybody's different, but for me, like in between practices and even during the race, you probably won't see me doing that."

Denny Hamlin left the subject for indefinite debate.

"Where does it end? What do you do?" he left for all to ponder.

Harvick offered a solution.

"I'm looking to outlaw this rule as fast as I can because I don't want to have to keep up with it," he said.

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