HOMESTEAD, Fla. (AP) — Brad Keselowski can't have his phone in his car regardless of how much NASCAR loved the attention it received from his Daytona 500 tweets.
But NASCAR chairman Brian France stressed Saturday the sport is committed to both social media and technology, and drivers could be communicating from inside digital cockpits as early as 2014.
Keselowski, who is seeking his first Sprint Cup championship in Sunday's season finale, was fined $25,000 for having a cellphone inside his car last week at Phoenix International Raceway. NASCAR found out about the phone because he tweeted during a red flag in the race — the exact same thing he did to worldwide acclaim in the season-opening Daytona 500 without penalty.
France admitted Keselowski's tweets in February caught NASCAR by surprise, and the rule has since "evolved" to address the possibility of competitors manipulating electronic fuel injection with onboard digital devices.
"That was the first time at Daytona that we had seen somebody in real time tweeting during a red flag," France said. "Immediately loved the idea, loved the attention that it brought to the sport, encourage it. But (we) have to balance it on the competition end to make sure nobody gains an advantage."
Still, France doesn't want a slowdown in social media from NASCAR's participants, and the digital cockpits could aid drivers in giving in-race updates without needing a smartphone.
Although the digital cockpits could come as early as 2014, there is no clear timetable for social media capability. NASCAR would like the participating manufacturers to use technology from their production cars in the "glass dashboards" and it's unclear how long it would take to get the system functional for drivers to use in the cockpit.
"I fully expect that we'll have one of the real incredible opportunities because of how information, telemetry are integral to the running of each race," France said. "For us to be able to share that information 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."
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