Social media's impact on the track - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Social media's impact on the track

It's one of the most significant things to change the way fans watch sports on television, particularly NASCAR racing.

Social media has taken race coverage to an unheard of level, and while some say it's a great companion to enjoy the sport, others are warning that just like in news reporting, social media is often one tweet away from trouble.

Walking through the garage area is one of the few times you won't see Sprint Cup Champ Brad Keselowski sending a tweet. With nearly a half million followers on Twitter, he's one of the best pioneers of the sport's newest frontier.

"It gives fans a place and forum and a place to voice their opinions, sometimes I wonder if social media, Facebook, Twitter, is the majority, or the minority which is voicing their opinion," former driver, now broadcaster Kyle Petty told WBTV. "Is one of the most active on social media, often taking on his critics.

Petty says while social media is a lot of fun for fans, you have to be careful with what you read and tweet.

"I don't think decisions need to be made on everything you see on twitter everything that goes on," Petty added.

It is one place where fans can actually communicate with drivers, the media, and each other. Today in the media center at Charlotte Motor Speedway I found writer Dustin Long tweeting about the controversy of the day involving truck series drivers Jennifer Jo Cobb and Mike Harmon, and lots of others were joining in the conversation.

"Pretty immediately we were able to see, we saw our fans, the excitement they had they were able to get this inside information behind the scenes favorite drivers, info they don't normally get," said Josh Hamilton. Hamilton oversees NASCAR's presence on social media and says the sanctioning body is embracing the trend.

"TV can only show three or four cars at time, they can't show the entire 43 car field, so twitter is a great second screen experience along with the nascar.com digital products, fans can then get inside get more info they don't normally get just following the broadcast," Hamilton added.

But Petty points out that social media only survives with racing as long as the experience is first shared through traditional media.

"Twitter doesn't survive in our sport without TV and without radio it really doesn't it, you've got to be watching to see what's going on and understand it," Petty said.

Fans who want to follow their favorite NASCAR driver can just type the name in the search bar on twitter. NASCAR encourages drivers and teams to use social media as often as possible to connect with fans.

Copyright 2013 WBTV. All rights reserved.

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