Before Twitter, NASCAR fans mostly knew the names of the drivers, their wives and their crew chiefs. And that was pretty much it.
But since the world started tweeting, everyone from spotters to public relations representatives to business types who were formerly behind the scenes now has a following of their own.
Josh Jones is one of those people. He's an employee of Kevin Harvick who handles Harvick's personal business – Kevin Harvick Inc. – but you likely don't know him by his name.
You know him by the Twitter handle @Mother_Function.
On Twitter, Jones is portrayed as Harvick's goofy sidekick – the two friends are constantly playing practical jokes on one another and lobbing insulting tweets back and forth – but in reality, Jones is actually a shrewd businessman and valuable employee.
Aside from his Twitter antics, Jones is a high-energy guy who is constantly in motion, the type of person who seems to know everyone and can put together a deal with ease.
He also has gained a tremendous following on Twitter: A whopping 44,000 people follow the @Mother_Function account, which puts him in the 30 most-followed accounts in all of NASCAR – more than even some Sprint Cup Series drivers.
So when Harvick tweeted this week that Jones was hospitalized after an injury sustained in a Tuesday night softball game, it felt for some NASCAR fans like one of their personal friends had gotten hurt.
Fortunately, Harvick said Friday that Jones is expected to make a full recovery once doctors feel he's out of the woods.
"They're taking good care of him and everything should be fine," Harvick said.
Here's what happened: Jones, an athletic type and former arena football kicker, was running to first base when he was hit in the head with a sharply thrown ball.
Jones fractured his skull, sustained a severe black eye that swelled shut and lost the hearing in his left ear as it filled with blood (the hearing is expected to return).
"But all that should be better, and they were just being really cautious about the swelling of his brain and making sure he didn't get a blood clot," Harvick said.
Jones hasn't tweeted since the accident – his last tweet was a picture of the softball team – but his wife, known as @MRS_FUNCTION, tweeted, "@Mother_Function and I want to thank everyone for their kind words, thoughts and prayers. We are spending some quality family time together. We'll all pull through this! Just may take some time :-)"
His family, friends and fans are likely hoping Jones returns to full strength soon to resume his back-and-forth tweets with Harvick – though the driver said he might have to take it easy on his buddy for awhile.
"I'll probably have to give him a lot less grief for a few weeks, for sure," Harvick said with a chuckle. "At least let his eye come back open."