Memo to Brad Keselowski:
Regardless of the circumstances, sometimes it’s better to keep your mouth shut and your Twitter feed shut down.
Don’t get me wrong. Your honesty and your willingness to say what’s on your mind are admirable. From a journalist’s standpoint, you’re excellent copy. When you won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship last season, we shared your joy.
You’ve become the poster child for social media in the NASCAR community, starting with your wildly popular tweets during the Daytona 500, after Juan Pablo Montoya lost his argument with the jet dryer.
Nevertheless, there are times when hair-trigger tweets don’t serve you well, and Sunday night was such a time.
I can understand why you were upset. You believed, and may still believe, that David Ragan usurped your rightful position on the outside of the fifth row for the green-white-checkered restart that decided the race.
The facts suggest otherwise. You are absolutely right that Ragan took the green flag from the outside row, in 10th place. He did so because NASCAR instructed him to line up there.
As the Cup cars circled under caution before the restart, those of us in the press box had Ragan scored eighth, on the outside of the fourth row, because that’s what the scoring monitors showed. Scott Speed was ninth, and you were 10th.
But before the green, NASCAR reordered the field after reviewing scoring following the Lap 183 accident that caused the caution and demoted Ragan two positions. That moved Speed up to eighth and you to ninth — on the inside row where you didn’t want to be.
I’m sure you caught Ragan’s explanation after the race.
“We were running eighth when the one-to-go around the caution (came), and NASCAR — I guess it’s standard procedure — they always go back through the running order and adjust any cars that need to be adjusted, I guess with film maybe, when the caution came out on that back straightaway wreck,” Ragan said.
“I knew that we were probably a little higher than what we should be, because we were running 20th or so when that wreck happened and we made it through, so they adjusted the lineup.”
Questioned about the race procedure, NASCAR issued a statement indicating that Ragan had lined up properly.
I’m sure, Brad, that you thought you had a legitimate beef, but that’s not the only issue here. There are times when you should simply hold your tongue to avoid appearing small-minded and petulant.
Front Row Motorsports got its first win and fourth top five in 406 starts. This is the moment in the sun for owner Bob Jenkins and the drivers who finished 1-2, Ragan and David Gilliland. Coming from your blue-collar racing family background, you ought to be able to identify with the enormity of what happened on Sunday.
Realistically, this may be the last win ever for Front Row. You, on the other hand, almost certainly will continue to win races and challenge for championships. The bottom line is that it’s unseemly to spit in Cinderella’s glass slipper on her one big night at the ball.
It’s also unwise to accuse another driver of “cheating the game” two days before your Penske Racing organization faces its final appeal hearing for using what NASCAR has deemed unapproved parts in your rear end housings last month at Texas.
You’re an elite driver and an outspoken, charismatic champion, but there are times when tact and magnanimity should temper your words.
Sunday night is a case in point.