The Frontstretch: Four Burning Questions: Tweeting, Fire Safety, Prime Time and Flying Under the Radar by Summer Bedgood -- Friday March 2, 2012

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Why is Keselowski’s Twitter usage a problem?

Although NASCAR isn’t penalizing Brad Keselowski for tweeting a picture while inside his car during a red flag at Daytona, the fact that anyone considers this a problem blows my mind. When I read comments online from anyone who sees it as an issue, I imagine a crotchety old man with liver spots and false teeth typing up a rant while muttering, “Back in MY day…”

What was Brad hurting by having his phone in the car? Without the red flag, it’s likely no one would have ever known he had it with him. Why? Because he doesn’t use it while he’s driving! Instead, the viewers received some much-needed entertainment and interaction with a driver in the middle of a bizarre stop during the biggest race of the year. With all of the recent fines towards athletes because of Twitter comments (including some in NASCAR), it’s nice to know that the sanctioning body is finally recognizing the value of social media and letting the drivers have a voice. Publicly, at least.

Despite the spectacular jet drier accident that mired the Daytona 500, the chances of a repeat are slim to none.

Are the safety initiatives for jet dryer drivers an overreaction?

Following the bizarre crash in which Juan Pablo Montoya crashed into a jet dryer and the resulting fire caused a two hour delay, at least two racetracks have implemented new safety measures to ensure their drivers are protected in the event of an accident. While I understand where they are coming from, neither Montoya nor Duane Barnes—the driver—were injured and the incident was a freak accident anyway. Most likely, we’ll never see it happen again in our lifetime. The drivers could be naked in the jet dryers and would be perfectly safe! (Sorry for that mental image).

I don’t blame tracks like Phoenix or Texas for having their safety workers wear firesuits and helmets, but I doubt they will ever be needed.

Was the Monday night delay a blessing in disguise?

It took a long time, but once the race finally ran it was worth the wait. And more people saw it than ever before. In fact, the 36.5 million American viewers were the most viewers NASCAR on FOX has ever had. Additionally, it dominated its time slot and was just behind NBC’s “The Voice” as the most watched show, all while doubling the normal viewership for a normal Monday night time slot on FOX. You can make all the excuses you want, but the fact is many more viewers were watching the race than the norm. I would be surprised if NASCAR wasn’t already discussing moving some events around to have a primetime event here and there.

A popular race for diehard NASCAR fans is the Wednesday night Camping World Truck Series race run every year in August, and I’ve been hearing fans beg NASCAR for more like it for years now. I can’t help but think this might bring about a few changes in the next couple of years.

Why is it so hard for Matt Kenseth to be recognized for the talent he is?

Poor Kenseth always seems to be overshadowed by some sort of controversy, and is rarely mentioned as a consistent threat to win even though statistics say he probably should be. Rain-shortened or not, Kenseth was able to win a Daytona 500 previously because of his ability to put himself in position, but of all the preseason predictions I read the name “Kenseth” was never among them as a top contender. Sure he’s a good “dark horse” pick, but did anyone really think he’d be the winner? I guess you never know at Daytona, but elsewhere this Wisconsin native is known for his ability to sneak up on people and challenge for a win. Unfortunately, I doubt a second Daytona 500 will do anything to change his tendency to fly under the radar, but my guess is Kenseth likes it that way.

Contact Summer Dreyer

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Doug in Washington (State)
03/02/2012 03:19 PM
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The firesuits for Jet Dryer drivers is actually a good idea. I don’t know what kind of containment system they have on those jets, and I know they aren’t running them at 100% Military Rated Power, but of one of those has a compressor or turbine failure they’d send shrapnel through the fuel tank if they don’t have a containment blanket of some sort. That’s make just as big of a fireball.

What they need though it to make sure they have a foam truck on hand. Dry Chem and Water is NOT how you put out a 200-gallon kerosene fire.

Moe Foe
03/04/2012 12:04 PM
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1) Brad’s twittering is only a problem in the Media’s (you…) eye. Until a driver is found to have an advantage, or the phone itself presents a hazard, there is no problem except that caused by media’s (you…) worrying about it.

2)Anyone (see fire and safety personnel) who enters the racing surface while racecars are there should have helmets and firesuits. Dryer drivers had been given a pass because they were in a vehicle. That has been proven false and now they, too, will get the uniform. What about the pace car? They ain’t protected at all. Racecars have a bad habit of careening hither and yon. everybody out there should beware!

3)Yes, but don’t go overboard, NASCAR. It was special because it was special, not because it was a weekday in prime time.

4)Matt has always been ‘The Workin’ Man’. His theme song oughta be by Rush (They’re close to Wisconsin…) I expect him to continue on the Mark Martin trail, …retiring, then a part-time ride, then hoopla and soiree for a NEW beginning…etc, etc