Brad Keselowski, shown during NASCAR testing at Phoenix International… (Jeff Gross / Getty Images…)
NASCAR has sent a clear message to its drivers: No more Twitter, or any other type of smartphone use, in its race cars.
The sanctioning body Monday levied a $25,000 fine on Brad Keselowski -- who leads the Sprint Cup Series standings -- because he used a smartphone in his car Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway.
Keselowski's in-car television camera showed the 28-year-old using his phone, which included sending a tweet, during a 15-minute break when the cars were stopped so that crews could clean up a wreck involving Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer.
The fine initially caused some confusion, because Keselowski made news last February for tweeting during a similar red-flag period at the Daytona 500 and was not penalized.
But after that race, "NASCAR communicated verbally to the drivers/teams that the language in the rule book was clear -- drivers could not carry on board their cars electronic devices such as cellphones while they were on the race track," NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said in an email.
This time, NASCAR did penalize Keselowski because "this is the first clear evidence (seen on network TV and tweet posted) since the Daytona 500 that a driver was carrying a cellphone on board his race car while on the race track," he said.
NASCAR otherwise has aggressively used Twitter and other social media to interact with fans, and Tharp said this penalty had no bearing on that effort.
"It's just an enforcement of an existing rule," he said.
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