Richard Petty: Phone rule made up

Updated: November 17, 2012, 9:43 PM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Hall of Fame driver Richard Petty says NASCAR was "hypocritical'' in fining point leader Brad Keselowski for carrying a cell phone in his car last weekend at Phoenix.

"I think it's hypocritical because he [did] it at Daytona, and then NASCAR had a big meeting with everybody and said, 'Oh! Man! That's great. Everybody go out there and do it just as much as you can.' And then they say, 'Whoo! You ain't supposed to do it in a racecar,' '' NASCAR's all-time win leader said on Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

"I don't think that was in the rulebook. I think they made that one up as they went.''

Keselowski was fined $25,000 for having the cell phone in his car and tweeting during a red flag situation late in Sunday's race. He did the same thing during a red flag situation in the season-opening Daytona 500 and picked up more than 100,000 followers.

Richard Petty
Petty

NASCAR gained national attention as well.

Keselowski said he won't take a stand against NASCAR and take his phone into the car for Sunday's finale in which he has a 20-point lead over five-time champion Jimmie Johnson.

Keselowski will move onto the front row thanks to a wreck during Saturday's first practice.

Pole-sitter Joey Logano will go to a backup car and start at the back of the field after being involved in an accident with Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin and Greg Biffle.

Keselowski, asked earlier in the week if he was confused by the message the fine sent, said "I'm confused a lot. I'll just add that to the list.''

NASCAR said drivers were told they could not carry cell phones or any other computer-like devices in the car after Daytona because it could create a competitive advantage as the sport moves to fuel injection this year and a digital cockpit that chairman Brian France said could be introduced in 2014.

France said the technology already exists to use cell phones as a competitive advantage, and there has to be a balance between that and goals to push social media.

"We are the most aggressive in social and digital media in terms of our drivers and teams and tracks taking part in that,'' France said. "Smart devices and smartphones and other devices can have an effect on manipulating the technology that is now going to be in the cars, and we have to be careful with that. And so that's why our policy is that you're simply not going to be able to take a device into the car with you.

"It doesn't mean that we're not going to be the most aggressive at hoping, pushing that they have big social media plans and they take full advantage of it. And Brad is one of the leaders of that with 300,000 some Twitter followers, and so we're going to keep pushing for them to do just that.''

France does not believe the governing body was hypocritical in fining Keselowski.

"It didn't change a bit,'' he said of the philosophy. "It evolved. That was the first time at Daytona that we had seen somebody in real time tweeting during a red flag at that point. We love that. We just know now that we have things in the car that could be affected by devices.

"And so we immediately loved the idea, loved the attention that brought to the sport. [We] encourage it but have to balance it in the competition end to make sure nobody gains an advantage.''

France didn't rule out the potential for social media to be tied into the digital cockpit.

"I fully expect that we have one of the real incredible opportunities because of how information, telemetry and all kind of things that are integral to the running of each race,'' he said. "And for us to be able to share that information down the road in very, very interesting ways with our fans, we are in the best position in sports, just because we have so much of that information, that is so relevant. "So I fully expect that to be a part of it, sure.''

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

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