Can you hear me?
Good. I’m calling to talk to you about your chances in that Penske Racing No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger of taking the whole enchilada, the big one, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. You’re so close. I wonder what your thoughts are.
What? I can’t hear you.
There seems to be a racket in the background. Are you in a jet plane or something? Sitting next to the percussionist in a symphony orchestra? Are you being held hostage in a foundry? I know. You’re at the movies, watching that new James Bond thing, “Skyfall.”
Where are you?
Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge, was fined $25,000 on Monday for having his cell phone with him on Sunday during the Sprint Cup Series AdvoCare 500 at the Phoenix International Raceway. The idea of a NASCAR driver with a cell phone in his car seemed as bizarre as, oh, a director of the CIA who couldn’t hide a secret relationship.
You’re in the race car, the Penske Racing No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger itself? Really. You’re driving the car?
You’re in the middle of the race? I’ve called you in the middle of the race? And you picked up?
You’re on the straightaway, heading toward the second turn at Phoenix International Raceway at over 150 miles per hour? That’s ONE-HUNDRED and FIFTY? Miles per hour?
And you’re running sixth? And you’re trying to pass Kevin Harvick? And the track is a little slick? And there is a bunch of turbulence? And your car is a little too loose? And now you’re three-wide and you’re so close to Harvick you can smell his after-shave? And Dale Earnhardt Jr. is right on your … what?
I couldn’t get that last word.
Keselowski first made cell phone news at the Daytona 500, the opening race of this NASCAR season. With 40 laps remaining, Juan Pablo Montoya spun on his way into the pits and crashed into a truck equipped with a jet contraption used to dry the track. The truck, with a 200-gallon tank filled with jet fuel, caught on fire. The fire was spectacular. The race was red-flagged, delayed for more than two hours. Keselowski whipped out his cell phone, took a picture of the burning truck and posted it on his Twitter account, @keselowski, during the delay. He later reported that he picked up more than 100,000 new followers on the night. His number of followers was more than 322,000 by the time the race started in Phoenix.
So maybe I should call you at a better time? Like tomorrow? Or maybe the day after that? I mean the race might be taking up most of your attention.
You’d rather do it now?
You don’t even want to wait until you go into the pits? Or at least until there’s a yellow caution lap?
We’ll go on green.
We’ll get it out of the way.
Keselowski explained after Daytona that he has carried his cell phone with him during races since he was involved in a horrific crash in 2007 in California. His car hit the wall hard, flipped, burst into fire and he was airlifted to a hospital in Los Angeles. Without a cell phone he couldn’t call his parents in Michigan to let them know he was fine. After a similar crash at Road Atlanta last year, his phone was in a special pocket in his flame retardant jump suit and he was able to call from the helicopter.
So you’re 28 years old and this would be a breakout moment if you could win this championship. Not only would you win the damn thing, you would beat Jimmie Johnson. That’s like beating the 1927 Yankees. The guy has won five out of the last six in that Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Lowes Chevy Impala. You’d be making some history here.
What do you give as the reason for your success? You won at Bristol in that half-mile bull ring, everyone spinning around like they were in a centrifuge. You won at Talladega, the exact opposite, high-speed restrictor plate stuff. You won a third time at Kentucky. You’ve covered the waterfront. Has it been the car, the crew? What?
You think you … what?
You think …
I can’t hear you. There seems to be some louder noise now. Some scraping of metal. Some tires screeching. Wow. That was a very loud noise. A crash.
Are you all right?
Jeff Gordon in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 DuPont Chevy Impala just crashed into Clint Bowyer in the Michael Waltrip Racing No. 15 5-hour Energy Toyota Camry on purpose? Just sent him flying? And you just missed being part of that? There’s chaos? Is that what you said? Chaos?
Hey, I’d better let you go.
No, really. I don’t care if now you’re on yellow now.
NASCAR said in a statement that Keselowski was fined for violation of Sections 12-1 and 20-6.7A of the rules “(cars and drivers will not be permitted to carry onboard computers, automated electronic recording devices, electronically activated devices, power distribution modules, power conditioners, micro-processors, electronic digital memory chips, traction control devices, digital readout gauges and the like even if inoperable or incomplete) – driver had a cell phone in his possession onboard the race car.” Keselowski also was put on probation until Dec. 31.
So good luck next week at Homestead. Go get ‘em.
Can’t hear you.
You’re breaking up.