NASCAR says Keselowski can keep phone in car

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — NASCAR said Tuesday Brad Keselowski can keep his cellphone in his race car during events, and all drivers are encouraged to use social media.

Keselowski drew worldwide attention for posting on Twitter during a red-flag period in Monday night's season-opening Daytona 500. He posted pictures, answered questions and kept fans informed of what was happening during the stoppage that lasted just over two hours.

The tweeting gained Keselowski roughly 140,000 followers during the race.

But there was concern having a phone violated NASCAR rules. Teams are prohibited from having recording devices in the car that are not for competition purposes, and two-way communication devices are supposed to be analog only.

NASCAR said Keselowski had not violated any rules and can keep his phone.

"NASCAR will not penalize Brad Keselowski for his use of Twitter during last night's Daytona 500," NASCAR said in a statement. "Nothing we've seen from Brad violates any current rules pertaining to the use of social media during races. As such, he won't be penalized. We encourage our drivers to use social media to express themselves as long as they do so without risking their safety or that of others."

Safety worker grateful for well wishes

The driver of the safety truck that exploded into flames during the Daytona 500 thanked NASCAR fans Tuesday night for their concern.

Duane Barnes was driving the jet dryer that was hit under caution when something broke on Juan Pablo Montoya's car and sent it careening into the truck. The collision caused a raging inferno that scorched the track and stopped Monday night's race for just over two hours.

"I appreciate everyone for taking the time to write, call and ask how I am," Barnes said in a statement. "I am OK, and I am amazed at how many people have wished me well. I am also glad Juan Pablo Montoya is OK, and thank him for his concern."

Barnes, a 24-year employee of Michigan International Speedway, was evaluated at a Daytona hospital Monday night and released. He was one of two employees Michigan sent to Daytona to help with the season-opening race.

Barnes often assists at tracks owned by International Speedway Corp. by driving jet dryers. Michigan sent three jet dryers to the race.

Meanwhile, Daytona president Joie Chitwood III said the 200 gallons of jet fuel that spilled across Daytona International Speedway and caught fire was a worst-case scenario.

"The worst possible thing that can happen to a racetrack is fuel," Chitwood said. "We hardly ever talk about burning fuel. If we would have talked about having 200 gallons of burning jet fuel on the racetrack during the event, I'm not sure what the likelihood would have been of completing the race."

Track workers put out the fire, then turned to laundry detergent to clean up the mess because, Chitwood said, the detergent is typically used to wash the track surface. The track was watered, soaped, watered again, then a street bond was added.

The entire process took just over two hours, and racing resumed right after.

"It was about a 10- or 11-step process," said Chitwood. "There is no true training manual to light a track on fire and respond to it. But what the team did . I think is phenomenal."

Drivers seemed concerned about racing through the area as they turned laps under caution, and a collective sigh was let out once Jeff Burton led a line of drivers through the high-side of the track that seemed to be the riskiest area.

"The drivers did not get an opportunity to see the track before we re-started, and I can only assume as I go through there and I hear stuff flying up into the crush panels that it's asphalt," Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. "When you're a driver and you're running on a racetrack and you hear things flying up, that's not typically normal. So I just assumed the track was pretty soft, but it held up well."