NASCAR warns drivers its reach expands to social media
Part of NASCAR’s town hall meeting with drivers and car owners last week focused on social media, not race cars.
The sanctioning body emphasized everyone has a responsibility not to say anything detrimental to the sport on Twitter or Facebook, and it reminded them it was monitoring sites.
The warning came hours after Corey LaJoie posted a note about following a man with a gray beard wearing a turban through airport security, saying the he should have been subject to a “cavity search” and just a couple weeks after truck series driver Nelson Piquet Jr. posted a gay slur.
“Well I think every person should have good common sense,” Jeff Gordon said. “I think that is what it really comes down to. I think with social media we all recognize that the fun it can be. We recognize the benefits it can have for marketing for our sponsors and so many other benefits. But also you have to be careful you can’t just go on a wild spree. You can’t always just speak your mind because it’s there.”
Other drivers have gotten into trouble using social media. Brad Keselowski was hailed as a social media maverick after he sent posts from his race car during delays in the 2012 Daytona 500 only to get a $25,000 fine for doing the same thing later in the year during a delay at the Phoenix International Raceway.
Denny Hamlin also was fined $25,000 for suggesting NASCAR creates late cautions to spice up the finish.
“I think we have all been there where we probably stepped over the line,” Gordon said. “Every time I put a tweet together I read it two and three times going, ‘Is this what I want to put out there? Do I want people to read this?’ Sometimes my emotions get the best of me and I push send and I probably maybe shouldn’t have, but I do try to use the best common sense that I can in everything that I send out there before it goes.”
Last Sunday’s 500-lap race at the Martinsville Speedway took 3 hours, 44 minutes and 21 seconds to complete. For some drivers, it still wasn’t a test of endurance.
Jimmie Johnson ran 20 miles on Thursday as part of his exercise routine, so Sunday’s race was easy because he got to sit down the whole way.
He set out to run 17 miles on Sunday, but he changed his mind knowing his closest competitor in the Chase for the Championship was Matt Kenseth, who drive drives the No. 20 Toyota.
“For the last couple of weeks I’ve been building up,” Johnson said. “Last week I ran 17, the week before it was 15. 20 was the number my coach and I talked about it last week when we got to 17. As I got near the end of it I think my coach said 20 for the 20. That kind of planted the seed in my mind and helped me run strong at the end.”
“No, I have just been training hard and working hard on things. Running those longer distances and paying attention to your heart rate, I ran a conservative heart rate for the first 17 and then at the end started building my heart rate up. I had some left in the tank. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, but ran home real strong. I was happy about that.”
Johnson and Kasey Kahne often run triathlons. In fact, both ran in South Carolina one less than eight hours after driving 400 miles in July’s Coke Zero 400 at the Daytona International Speedway.
Johnson said the mental push it takes to finish long distance runs helps him stay focused during the waning laps of a long race.
“In the moment suffering on the bike or swimming or running or whatever it’s a similar mindset to driving the race car late in the race or an ill-handling race car, where it’s not fun, but you have to figure out how to get to the end as fast as you can,” he said.
Kenseth said he has no plans to make any long runs, especially 48 miles (Johnson’s car number).
“It would take me a week to run 20 miles even if somebody was chasing me,” he said.