The Top 10 Must-Follow NASCAR Personalities on Twitter
Nothing personifies this generation's obsession with quick connectivity quite like Twitter.
The Internet's fastest-growing social media website has shredded all barriers between celebrities, athletes, other media personalities and the average person.
Perhaps no other sport has competitors and personalities that engage their audience like NASCAR. Almost every big name (and not-so-big name) in the garage is on Twitter these days, answering fan questions, giving away souvenirs and mementos and engaging in sometimes-extremely lively debates.
Here's a list of a handful of drivers, reporters and other miscellaneous people that every NASCAR fan with a Twitter account should follow...
And, as always, leave us a comment below. Tell us some of your favorite drivers that you follow and why they're your favorite. Or maybe tell us about the coolest interaction that you've had with a NASCAR personality on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you!
Yeah, you knew this one was coming.
Perhaps no other driver embodies the unfiltered access that Twitter provides more than Brad Keselowski.
The Penske Racing driver regularly interacts with fans, kindly acknowledging those who agree with his sometimes-blunt statements and engaging in good, clean debate with those who don't.
He made waves in August 2011 when he took to Twitter with his controversial take on Danica Patrick's full-time NASCAR switch—which can be read here thanks to Dustin Long at SI.com.
Then, there was the circus that was this year's Daytona 500, in which Keselowski made headlines on sports pages and news pages alike for tweeting pictures (via Richard Sandomir at Huffington Post) from the backstretch of the Daytona International Speedway during a lengthy red flag for Juan Montoya's now-infamous crash with a jet dryer.
Keselowski would have become a star anyway; he's got unbelievable talent and an attitude that draws fans and detractors alike. But it can be argued that he has used Twitter to his advantage more than anyone else in the garage.
Keselowski isn't the only NASCAR driver to use Twitter to allow fans a closer look at himself.
During the early part of his career, Jimmie Johnson was labeled too bland, too boring. Detractors grew fond of using the term "vanilla" to describe him.
Then, Johnson found Twitter.
Johnson has sought to revamp his image in recent years—most notably by sporting facial hair that succeeds in making him look a bit more rugged.
But it's on Twitter where Johnson's fun-loving personality shows through. He also throws fans a bone every Monday with his #JJSwag contest, where the 48th person to retweet his initial contest-starting tweet wins the hat he wore on television the previous race weekend.
It's a cool way of showing that Johnson is anything other than vanilla.
As with Johnson, Matt Kenseth has spent much of his career fighting claims that he is boring, that he shows no emotion and has no personality.
But anyone who follows him on Twitter knows that Kenseth can be refreshingly candid and quite funny at times.
Just this past Tuesday, when everyone and their grandmother knew that he would be announced as Joey Logano's replacement at Joe Gibbs Racing, Kenseth sent out an early-morning tweet dryly poking fun at the situation.
"Kaylin (Kenseth's daughter) and I are hanging out this morning," it read, "not sure what I'm going to do with the rest of my day."
That sarcasm and wit make Kenseth's account one to follow, for the humor as much as the racing insight.
As sports fans, we have the luxury of reading any number of different perspectives from any number of reporters on news stories surrounding our favorite sports.
But there are few, if any, who cover their sport with the passion that Marty Smith does.
To have Smith on your timeline is an adventure. You get the latest breaking NASCAR news, as well as incredibly intelligent insight on any number of things, from country music to Virginia Tech football to his heartfelt advocacy for any number of causes.
His weekly ESPN.com column is a must-read every week—he elicits suggestions from fans via Twitter each week, by the way—and Smith converts his remarkable prose into 140 characters with ease.
If you're a NASCAR fan or a fan of genuinely interesting people, he's a must-follow.
If there was an award for most fearless tweeter, it would go to Kyle Petty.
The majority of tweets that come from Petty are direct responses to fan questions or—in many cases—snide or mean-spirited comments from fans.
But the same Petty that fans saw on television as a driver and now see as an analyst, the guy who says what he thinks and cares nothing about what anyone else thinks, is the same Petty that fans get on Twitter.
And that means he's not afraid to dish it out to fans who are rude.
In this era of political correctness and the ever-present desire to tiptoe around offending someone, seeing Petty go tit-for-tat is pretty entertaining most of the time. He never goes out of his way to pick fights with fans and his thoughts on the sport and what is happening in it are usually right on the money.
But seeing him get in a good zinger on a mouthy user is enough to warrant a follow on its own.
Following drivers, reporters, analysts and the like are all great, but for fans who want to follow someone who works inside the belly of the beast, Steve O'Donnell is that guy.
O'Donnell is a Senior Vice President with NASCAR, meaning he knows all the ins and outs and is usually willing to share whenever he gets questions from fans, which is pretty often.
Seeing as how NASCAR CEO Brian France and President Mike Helton aren't active in the Twitterverse, O'Donnell is a great guy to follow for fans who want the NASCAR perspective on things.
At 53 years young, Mark Martin may not be a full-time presence on the Sprint Cup circuit anymore, but he's a full-time presence on Twitter.
The ever-popular Arkansas native fields questions from fans on all kinds of topics including, but not limited to, racing, his scrupulous fitness regimen and his odd adoration of rap music.
When he's on the racetrack, Martin's usually the oldest guy in the field. He's young at heart, though, which makes him right at home in the Twitterverse.
In no way is DeLana Harvick the only wife of a Sprint Cup driver that is active on Twitter, but she is definitely the most involved.
On race day, she's up on the pit box of her man Kevin Harvick (@kevinharvick if you were wondering), plugged in to the scanner listening in on all the conversation between her husband and his team. During races, she provides insider updates to fans of the No. 29 Budweiser team as well as her own observations of the goings-on on the racetrack.
Off the track, DeLana gave birth to a baby boy, Keelan, in July. Before the birth, however, she and Kevin gave birth to the #BabyOtis phenomenon, initially using the hashtag to refer to their yet-to-be-named baby before it spun out of control into a comic goldmine.
For NASCAR fans in search of the lighter side of their favorite sport, @NASCARcasm has just the joke or funny picture needed.
The identity-less namesake behind the @NASCARcasm account is a regular contributor to SBNation.com under the pseudonym, providing a weekly picture featuring a funny take on a current event, such as the Busch-centric take on the "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" poster above.
He's also always waiting to poke fun at whatever news story comes across the NASCAR wire.
As with Kyle Petty earlier, the great thing about following Kenny Wallace on Twitter is that what you see is what you get, meaning the same wacky-yet-knowledgeable analyst that viewers see on Speed is exactly the same guy they get on Twitter.
By following Wallace, fans can find out which of the seemingly-endless number of dirt tracks The Hermanator may be racing at on a given night, or just find out what's on his mind. Beware, though: fans will probably see so many uses of "hahaha" that they may fear they've fallen into a Joker-centered Batman comic.
Oh yeah, he talks NASCAR, too.