social media

Is social media going too far in influencing NASCAR penalties?


Kevin Harvick believes social media played a role in his team’s penalty this week, and Kyle Busch says series officials should “not pay attention to it sometimes and do what they think is best for the sport.’’

The role social media could have in influencing NASCAR officials has grown since photos of the rear window of Harvick’s car were posted shortly after his victory last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

NASCAR penalized Harvick’s team Wednesday for a rear window brace that failed and also for having steel side skirts instead of aluminum. NASCAR docked Harvick the seven playoff points he earned, fined crew chief Rodney Childers $50,000 and suspended the team’s car chief two races, among other penalties.

Asked if his team would have been penalized without the pressure of fans on social media, Harvick said Friday: “I don’t think so.’’

This marks the second time since last year’s playoffs that social media has been viewed as playing a role in a penalty. Last September, a post on Reddit noted that a crew member appeared to remove tape from the top of the spoiler of Chase Elliott’s car while he did an interview on NBCSN after the race.

NASCAR responded two days later by suspending crew chief Alan Gustafson and the team’s car chief one race each along with a 15-point penalty for Elliott, among other penalties. NASCAR stated that modification of components to affect the aerodynamic properties of the vehicle was not allowed.

Asked if he was concerned that NASCAR has made decisions based on social media, Busch didn’t hesitate Friday.

“Absolutely,’’ he said. 

Joey Logano doesn’t it see it that way.

“I wouldn’t assume that NASCAR makes calls off of social media,’’ he said Friday at ISM Raceway. “I wouldn’t think that is the case. I would think NASCAR is bigger than that.’’

Busch worries social media has become too loud in some cases.

“I think there’s too many voices,’’ he said when asked if the perceived social media impact on officiating as a good thing or bad thing.

“I think the powers that be that are way higher than me need to figure out how to shut that off and not pay attention to it sometimes, and do what they think is best for the sport as what we’ve done for 60 years. It seems the last 10 (years) especially has been more so. And listening to those that are watching it and those who are watching it have too many varying opinions. You’re not going to please them all. It doesn’t seem as though we’re setting ourselves up for the best going forward by listening to too many of them.”

Harvick said he had a solution on how not to let social media influence series officials.

“Keep your executives off of it during the race,’’ he said.

Harvick noted the issues social media has presented in calling for penalties in golf, mentioning the penalty to Lexi Thompson in an LPGA major in April.

A viewer emailed tournament officials alerting them to an infraction Thompson committed the day before. After reviewing the situation, she was issued a four-stroke penalty. She was notified of the penalty with six holes left in the final round. The penalty dropped her out of the lead. She eventually lost in a playoff.

In December, the U.S. Golf Association and the game’s major professional tours announced they would no longer accept calls and emails from fans who think they have spotted rules violations. The governing bodies, in conjunction with the PGA Tour, LPGA, PGA European Tour, Ladies European Tour and PGA of America, agreed to assign at least one rules official to monitor all tournament telecasts and resolve any rules issues.

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NASCAR America: Matt DiBenedetto grateful for sponsors found via Twitter campaign

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After an eventful Tuesday on social media for Matt DiBenedetto, the GoFas Racing driver met with NASCAR America’s Marty Snider to discuss how effective a call for sponsor help turned out to be.

A video DiBenedetto recorded and posted on Twitter quickly resulted in pledges of $5,000 from fellow Cup drivers Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick, as well as Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip. DiBenedetto told Snider another big name in the sport “silently” chipped in as well.

Late Wednesday, GoFas Racing announced the following supporters for the team this weekend: Zynga Poker, Enlisted Nine Fight Company, Pit Stops for Hope, Denny Hamlin (Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown), Kevin Harvick (KHI Management), and Darrell Waltrip (Waltrip Brothers Charity Championship).

“You never know the power of social media, man, it’s impressed me many times and probably never more than this one,” DiBenedetto said. “It was just an on the fly thing, we didn’t have any plan for it.”

The 26-year-old driver made clear that the team and his job were not in jeopardy, but that it’s very hard for a team to be unsponsored for any race.

“Obviously, a little more came out of it than anticipated,” DiBenedetto said. “It turned into an emotional day for me, to be honest.”

The second-year driver for GoFas Racing was awestruck by the support from Hamlin, Harvick and Waltrip.

“Those are people, dude, that I looked up to since I was a kid watching, those are some of my heroes,” DiBenedetto said. “For them to think that much of me and want me to be a big part of this sport, knowing I’m a young guy … I’m not kidding … I rode home in my truck like in silence because I was just floored.”

Watch the above video for more from DiBenedetto and NASCAR America’s analysts.

Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick offer GoFas Racing financial support for Phoenix race

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Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick are following in the footsteps of Dale Earnhardt Sr. for at least one race weekend.

The two Cup drivers will be financial backers of a competitor in a Cup Series race, something Earnhardt did a handful of times in the late 1980s and early ’90s via his Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet dealership.

Tuesday morning, Matt DiBenedetto took to Twitter to ask his followers to work their social media magic.

DiBenedetto, in his second season driving for the team, made a video requesting help in connecting the team with any businesses who would be interested in being on the car.

DiBenedetto made the plea because the team did not have a primary sponsor for this weekend’s race at ISM Raceway

Within eight minutes, Hamlin announced he would chip in $5,000 to help the team.

DiBenedetto replied that the team could put his face, the Denny Hamlin Foundation logo or “whatever you would like” on the car.

Hamlin later tweeted of DiBenedetto: “Very good driver here that deserves being on the track. Any company would be represented well on his car.”

Soon after that, NASCAR Hall of Famer and Fox Sports analyst Darrell Waltrip offered up another $5,000 through his “Boogity Brands.”

Harvick then followed with another $5,000 from KHI Management.

Who said nothing good ever happened on the Internet?

See how the deal scame together below and check back here to see what else comes of DiBenedetto’s social media Hail Mary.

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Twitter brings Ryan Blaney together with ‘biggest little fan’ at Disney World

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Michael Bell doesn’t tweet often.

Since joining Twitter in August 2012, Bell has tweeted just 15 times beginning in August 2016.

But his last seven tweets were all about his son, Natty, getting to meet his favorite NASCAR driver – Ryan Blaney.

The meeting occurred Tuesday at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, roughly an hour from Daytona International Speedway where Blaney is taking part in Speedweeks. The park is a long way from Red Lion, Pennsylvania, which Bell claims as his home on Twitter.

The first tweet toward bringing Natty and Blaney together was sent on Dec. 30, the day before the driver’s 24th birthday.

Blaney actually saw that tweet and liked it.

The next day, Bell and Natty wished Blaney a happy birthday.

Bell didn’t tweet again until Tuesday – 46 days later – when he and his family were at the Hollywood Studios portion of the park, where Blaney, his sister and a friend happened to be.

“I saw that and his kid was wearing my shirt,” Blaney said Wednesday during Daytona 500 Media Day. “Said he was my biggest fan. … We were eating and were able to meet up with them for a little bit. That was pretty cool how they were out there and they took the time to come hang out and meet us for a little bit. His whole family was there and he had a couple of other kids who were fans, too. I thought the timing was pretty cool, how they were in the same spot as us and pretty happy to make that happen.”

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Social Roundup: NASCAR drivers enjoy day off at beach, Disney World

Danica Patrick's Instagram
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After a weekend of practice for the Daytona 500 and the Advance Auto Parts Clash, Cup Series drivers got two days off in their Speedweeks experience before the final push to Sunday’s “Great American Race.”

A number of drivers got out in the Florida sunshine to enjoy their off days.

That includes Danica Patrick, who went for a walk on Daytona Beach — on her hands.

Racing down Daytona beach. 😜

A post shared by Danica Patrick (@danicapatrick) on

Elsewhere, a good chunk of the Cup field made the trek to Walt Disney World in Orlando, which is about an hour southwest of Daytona Beach. Kevin Harvick‘s son, Keelan, even got to experience his first ride on an adult roller coaster.

Here’s a look at all the NASCAR drivers who invaded Disney World.

Kurt Busch and wife Ashley. (Photo courtesy of Joann Mignano)

Disney with the fam 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦

A post shared by Trevor Bayne (@tbayne6) on

This girl is having a ball at Disney World. 👌

A post shared by Clint Bowyer (@clintbowyer) on

Rookie William Byron may have been the only driver who didn’t stay on the ground. The Hendrick Motorsports’ driver went for a ride with the Thunderbirds. Good news, he didn’t throw up.