Most professional sports ban competitors from tweeting during events. But how was driver Brad Keselowski able to more than triple his Twitter following on Monday after the two-hour delay of NASCAR's Daytona 500?
Well, for one, it starts with NASCAR's willingness to allow Twitter to be used as a tool for maximizing the relationship between drivers, viewers and fans. And two, the circumstances were prime for Keselowski to take advantage of.
Keselowski finished 29th in last year's Daytona 500. (Reuters/Chris Keane)
Expanding on the latter, it started with Juan Pablo Montoya's crash on Turn 3 during a caution-flagged lap 160 into a jet dryer that ignited a fire on the racetrack, a scene Keselowski, a prolific Twitter user and one of the leading voices on NASCAR's social media front, took a picture of with his phone while he was driving.
He then sent a tweet that may have literally ignited Twitter hysteria, reading: Fire! My view pic.twitter.com/RWn3xMn6
But Keselowski didn't stop there. After officials red-flagged the race to clean up the mess with detergent, the 28-year-old tweeted several more photos and began interacting with racing fans on his account. Yahoo Sports reported that he sent 43 tweets from his account during the two-hour delay, all but eight of which were retweeted more than 50 times.
Nobody else has a phone, Keselowski said as he was interviewed from pit road during the delay. They should get one to see what is going on. They keep making fun for it, but I'm having a good time.
Keselowski, who started the race with about 65,000 followers, left Daytona International Speedway with more than 200,000. It was the sort of Twitter growth that in recent memory seems to have only mirrored by that of New York Knicks point guard sensation Jeremy Lin.
When asked about Keselowski's tweeting during the delay, Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished the race second, said he wasn't interested in tweeting. However, his team did use a phone, albeit for another purpose.
That's how Brad is, he said. That's what he likes, and that's what he enjoys. I thought it was pretty funny. We did take the phone and put it to good use. We looked up the weather.
Keselowski was caught in a seven-car crash on Lap 187 on the front stretch that resulted in fim finishing in 32nd place. Within a minute of the wreck he tweeted, Nothing we could do there ... Never saw the wreck till we were windshield deep. #daytona500.
Keselowski finished in 32nd place, and afterwards, sent a tweet of appreciation out:
Thank you followers! @SEBnPJB: Whoa congrats @keselowski 200k followers!
Yet even for a Twitter fiend such as Keselowski, the number 200,000 paled in comparison to a more important number: one.
(I got) a lot (of followers), he said. but I'd take the win first.