There are many reasons that I'm not Brad Keselowski.
There's the obvious - I don't have a lifetime supply of Miller Lite or a Twitter account that likely breaks any and all forms of an iPhone's notification features - and the not-so-obvious, like being a slightly worse race car driver than the championship leader and not having the means to drop $25,000 in the NASCAR Foundation.
I also, after Monday, am not Brad Keselowski because I can still laugh at NASCAR for making yet another quixotic ruling that defies most traditional forms of logic. Keselowski, $25,000 lighter in the wallet thanks to a tweet he sent from his car during the red flag near the end of Sunday's race at Phoenix, probably isn't giggling.
But I sure am.
Just like the humor I find in the new college football rule that mandates a player leave the field if his helmet cause - your move, traumatic brain injuries? - I can't help but laugh at NASCAR's insistence of routinely blowing right past "oh, that makes sense" on the road to "let's use a casino game" in determining actions to take.
Mind you, they don't always go that far. Just look at Monday when they also rightly fined Jeff Gordon enough points and money that his stupid actions late in Sunday's race don't go by unnoticed. They also got it right with the fine and probations levied against the crew chiefs of Gordon and Clint Bowyer for letting their crews turn the Phoenix garage area into a wrestling ring.
But then, NASCAR, does the crazy stuff. They fine Keselowski. They throw a caution for debris that's never large enough to be shown on television (or, at the very least, don't mandate their television partners show the dangerous piece) and then fail to throw a caution when Danica Patrick spins sideways in front of half the field. They act unlike they typically act.
And that's the humor in Keselowski's situation. You know that just nine months ago, Keselowski rocketed into the sports social media sphere when he sent an iPhone picture of his Dodge's dash to Twitter from the boredom of a long red flag in the Daytona 500. He gained 135,000 followers that night alone and has commanded a bigger influence across the entire sports world.
It was a huge win for NASCAR - sponsored by some cellular device company named Sprint, remember - and the sport's officials rightly tossed their arms around the success. It was, just as it is now, against NASCAR's rule banning electronic devices in the cockpit, but the right hand was apparently chatting with left hand enough then to realize that killing viral momentum like that by slapping Keselowski's phone away wasn't the best of ideas.
And so, publicly, NASCAR let the tweets continue. Keselowski tweeted from the car after his win at Bristol and from a rain delay during the Richmond race in September. There were no reprimands and no public warnings that tweeting from inside the car during a race was crossing the line. In a new partnership with a Twitter, a commercial touting the relationship showed Keselowski tweeting from victory lane as a reason to use the #NASCAR has tag. A simple Google search Monday night turned up two instances where two separate NASCAR vice presidents were quoted in the last two weeks by ESPN and the New York Times discussing how Keselowski's tweeting overall was great for the sport. They didn't make specific comments on Keselowski's in-car tweeting being outside the rules, but they sure didn't have any disdain about it.
Until Monday, at least.
NASCAR's communications department would later say the rule has been in place since the Daytona 500 and that teams were advised to not have cell phones in the car. It's a legitimate concern for the sport so ardent against computer-assisted driving or telemetry collection, but it's one that's never been publicly communicated to the fan base. Or, apparently, to Keselowski and other drivers who have been tweeting from in their cars all season.
Keselowski hasn't publicly commented on the matter and he's deleted the offending tweet in question (though his Twitter background photo remains the heralded Daytona tweet). It's a smart move for a guy who doesn't need any other distractions heading toward the season's final race Sunday.
But NASCAR has, both in the fine and the ensuing Twitter explanations, mystifying anyone with thinking mostly straight. I sure would have loved to be a fly on the wall of the Sprint marketing department Tuesday morning when someone undoubtedly noted the irony.
"So yeah. That huge, major sport we spend millions to sponsor? Yeah, they just fined the guy who is the odds-on favorite to win their championship for using one of our cell phones in a completely safe manner."
Left hand, meet right hand.
Sometimes, that's tough for the NASCAR we know and love.
NOT: We really can't go any further without admonishing NASCAR for so dangerously blowing the finish of Sunday's race. Patrick's spin requires a caution-flag 100 percent of the time, even when the white flag is waving. It's 2012 - how can a sport be so pressing on some safety issues and so lax on others?
NOT: Jeff Gordon also deserves it, too. His move was incalculably stupid. A suspension wasn't necessary, but I wouldn't have argued against it, either.
HOT: Two championship contenders watched their title chances go way south Saturday and Sunday thanks to a self-inflicted mistake (Elliott Sadler) and a random chance problem (Jimmie Johnson). Both probably can't stop shaking their heads in despair this week, but both still made themselves ready and open to discuss the disappointment after the race. After 30-plus weeks of following these championship fights, fans deserve that. Kudos.
NEUTRAL: I can't say I'm a huge fan of Keselowski's explicit language used in his post-race press conference, but it was real and about as authentic as you can get. Used in the right situations, as with everything, and I'm fine with it. But I understand if fans will young children aren't too pleased - though he is a guy sponsored by a beer company.
HOT: Hey! We didn't have any restart controversies this week!
NOT: Dale Earnhardt Jr., 21st Sunday, just struggles at Phoenix.
HOT: Richard Childress Racing finally got a win from Kevin Harvick and Paul Menard ran up front all day. All three cars found a top-15 finish.
NEUTRAL: It's been a struggle of a year for Juan Pablo Montoya, but his 12th-place finish was his best since June at Michigan.
HOT: Kurt Busch has reeled off three consecutive top-15 finishes and two straight top-10 finishes in his season-closing move to Furniture Row Racing. That already outclasses Regan Smith's efforts in that this season, and makes them a team to keep an eye on for 2013 with the support from Richard Childress Racing.
- Motor Racing
- Sports & Recreation
- Brad Keselowski
- Jeff Gordon