— Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) November 18, 2012
Brad Keselowski (@Keselowski) dominated NASCAR this year both on the track and Twitter, picking up more than 265,000 followers since his tweet of an exploding jet fuel truck during the rain delay of the first prime-time Daytona 500 in February. He gained more than 135,000 followers on the night of the 500 itself, and his flammable post and ensuing back-and-forth Twitter conversation with fans was a literal flashpoint for the sport's push into social media. That digital drive is expected to accelerate even further once NASCAR takes over the NASCAR.com website on Jan. 1 and may even feature a "digital cockpit" in 2014.
Sunday, Keselowski wrapped up his first NASCAR Sprint Cup championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway and didn't wait to share the moment with his 330,000-plus followers, posting the above photo from inside his car after the race. He gained about 6,000 followers on championship race day.
Keselowski was fined $25,000 last week after tweeting a photo during a red-flag delay in NASCAR's Phoenix race. He said during the week he was not going to contest the fine, which coincidentally followed a profanity-filled outburst during his postrace news conference, but was mystified by the penalties, saying he was "confused a lot. I'll just add that to the list." He was fined under a NASCAR rule (Sections 12-1 and 20-6.7A) that prohibited drivers from carrying portable electronic devices in their car, and not, officials said, for specifically tweeting.
"Bottom line, after Daytona our competition folks communicated with every race team over the next couple of events that phones were not allowed in cars," NASCAR executive vice president Steve O'Donnell told Playbook last week. "Drivers are allowed to tweet during a red flag if they are out of their cars. This was the first visual evidence we had of a driver with a phone in their car during the event. ... This has nothing to do with tweeting, rather the potential competitive advantage that could be gained based on today's technology."
Last week's fine triggered cries of hypocrisy from fans, drivers -- and even Richard Petty -- since NASCAR had used the viral success of his tweets during the Daytona 500 as a springboard. Keselowski had tweeted from Victory Lane at Bristol, Tenn., and during a rain delay at Richmond, Va., earlier this season, escaping penalties on each occasion. Keselowski posted his final prerace tweet Sunday about 45 minutes prior to its start. He then surrendered his phone and stayed silent on social media until his celebratory post, which was missing only the hashtag #Champion.
Don't expect NASCAR to issue any fines or further penalties here, since this post came after the race and Kesleowski is the Sprint Cup champ, albeit one who is still officially on probation until Dec. 31.
Keselowski was showered with accolades on social media, along with owner Roger Penske, another first-time Sprint Cup winner. Clint Bowyer rallied to finish second in the points standings despite his Jeff Gordon-induced wreck in Phoenix:
— Clint Bowyer (@ClintBowyer) November 19, 2012
Jimmie Johnson, who entered Sunday's race in second place in the Sprint Cup chase, ended third after leaving the race with 40 laps to go because of mechanical problems.
You're buying beer in Vegas.@clintbowyer: Can't believe we ended up 2nd. I didn't even know it was mathematically possible.
— Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) November 19, 2012
Boogity, boogity ... never mind:
@keselowski if I was 20 yrs younger I'd love to celebrate with you guys tonight, no wait, better make that 30 yrs younger! Dang time flies!
— Darrell Waltrip (@AllWaltrip) November 19, 2012
Now if they could only get Michigan football back into the national championship picture:
— Desmond Howard (@DesmondHoward) November 18, 2012
Keselowski is a Rochester, Mich., native.
@Keselowski tweeps, don't fret. The 2013 Daytona 500 is just 97 days away. But it's likely you'll be hearing a lot from him in the interim.
• This sort of makes you wonder how we survived all those years without Twitter or the Internet, for that matter.
— The White House (@whitehouse) November 17, 2012
This photo, tweeted by the White House Saturday, was taken during Thursday's visit to the White House featuring McKayla Maroney and her "Fierce Five" Olympic gymnastic gold-medal winning teammates. They had missed an earlier visit by other Olympians this year due to their touring schedule. Our appetite was whetted with this post after the trip:
Did I just do the Not Impressed face with the President..?
— McKayla Maroney (@McKaylaMaroney) November 15, 2012
The national tour of the gymnasts ended Sunday night with a performance at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn:
So sad the tour is over!!! Going to miss everyone so much
— Kyla Ross (@kyla_ross96) November 19, 2012
• Sarcasm ruled over sympathy on Twitter on Sunday night with the news that Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski broke his arm during an extra-point attempt following the final touchdown of New England's 59-24 victory over the Colts. Gronkowski is expected to miss at least four weeks.
Gronk breaks arm as Belichick runs up score. Is this like Darth Vader cutting off Luke's hand? #DarkSide
— CaptainTouchback (@CaptTouchback) November 19, 2012
• Utah place-kicker Coleman Petersen scored on this predicted fake field goal attempt after getting a snap pass from punter/placeholder Sean Sellwood during Saturday's 34-24 loss to Arizona. The play gave Utah an early 7-3 lead.