Perhaps lost in the fines and other penalties handed down by NASCAR on Monday for the debacle at the end of last weekend’s Advocare 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway was a $25,000 fine slapped upon series championship points leader Brad Keselowski.
No, Keselowski wasn’t involved in the incident and we just missed it. His penalty was because he had his cell phone in his race car with him.
But hold on just a minute. Wasn’t this the guy who became NASCAR’s social media darling, so to speak, when he tweeted that infamous pic of his view out his windshield during a red flag at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway after Juan Montoya hit a jet dryer?
In the week that followed, NASCAR announced that Keselowski would not be fined for having his cell phone in his car, or even for tweeting from behind the wheel during a red flag, even though NASCAR rules prohibit extra electronic equipment in the race car during competitive circumstances. NASCAR said that the lack of a penalty then was because the cell phone didn’t present an advantage.
NASCAR even applauded the move in the days that followed, and the driver was later given credit for prompting NASCAR’s to take a look at its social media strategy. Accordingn to ESPN.com, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Operations Steve O’Donnel was even quoted as saying, “”Our ultimate goal is to bring people into the drivers’ seat during the event as possible — show them what’s going on and give them access.”
Isn’t that what Keselowski’s doing when he uses his phone in the car to tweet during red flags, trips to victory lane, etc.?
What changed? Usually when there’s a rule change or an ammendment to a rule, press releases or issued and announcements are made. If that happened in this case, I must’ve missed it. It sure wouldn’t be the first time. But if I haven’t missed anything, was this fair. After all, hadn’t a precedent already been set that cell phones in race cars were okay. Apparently, they’re not anymore. And if not announcement had been made, did Keselowski know that cell phones were no longer allowed?
Keselowski has climbed out of his car in victory lane multiple times this season and taken a photo with his phone, presumably to tweet, first thing after climbing from behind the wheel. In those instances, it’s been pretty obvious that the phone was in the car with. But no fines were issued following any of those instances.
So was the phone in the car really a problem on Sunday? Or did Keselowski just irk NASCAR with a negative comment after the race, specifically a comment critical of NASCAR not waving the yellow flag for oil on the track before it caused a multi-car incident as several cars slid their way toward the start/finish line under the checkered flag. He also made an irate comment regarding a double standard of opinion in regards to criticism he received for aggressive racing the prior week in Texas compared to the final laps of racing at Phoenix.
In case you’re wondering, here’s a censored version of his comment (obtained from ESPN):
“I’m offended at the double-standard that I spent a whole week being bashed by a half a dozen drivers about racing hard at Texas and how I’m out of control and have a death wish, and then I see [expletive] like that. That’s [expletive]. That’s all you can call that,” he said. “These guys just tried to kill each other. You race hard and I get called an [expletive] for racing hard and called with a death wish, and I see [expletive] like that, and it just [expletive] me off.”
Keselowski offered an apology for the rant via, what else, Twitter on Monday.
O’Donnell said recently that since the early season tweet from Daytona, drivers have been told not to have phones in cars, but that they’re still free to tweet during red flags if they’re outside their cars. He went on to say that, previous to Sudnay’s incident at Phoenix, NASCAR had no visual evident of drivers having phones in their cars. It’s looked pretty obvious on television multiple times, so I’m not sure about that one.
Something just doesn’t seem right here.
– Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (but not from your phone while you’re in any kind of race car). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook — NASCAR Examiner