News & Media


Behind the Wheel: Ups and downs at Daytona for Keselowski

February 23, 2011, Brad Keselowski, Special to NASCAR.COM, NASCAR.com

Helping brother make the 500 a highlight; two races, two wrecks disappoints

Hey race fans. You know, it's crazy how circumstances can change your mind about things. I was definitely ready to get to Daytona. I don't think we could have been any more prepared, on either the No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge team or the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge team. But after our second accident of the race weekend on Sunday, I was ready to put Daytona Beach in the rear view until July.

It's one thing to wreck out of an event when you know that you have no shot at winning. It's another to have a great car in two races and get caught up in two wrecks that you had nothing to do with. Neither was intentional. They were both just a product of the racing that we saw at Daytona over the weekend, but that doesn't make you feel any better about leaving with two torn-up race cars.

Brotherly shove


Brad Keselowski provided one of the better feel-good moments at Daytona.


* Video: Wrecks in Daytona 500 | Crashes in Nationwide race

On the other hand my teammate, Kurt Busch, made Daytona his personal playground for about two weeks. And while his bid to become the first driver to win the Shootout, Duel and Daytona 500 came up four positions short in the Great American Race, I don't think there is any doubt that he was the strongest car of Speedweeks. He and I both wanted to get Roger [Penske] another 500 win for his birthday [which was Sunday], and I know we had the cars to do it, but circumstances kept that from happening.

As most of you know by now, my brother, Brian, made his first Cup Series start in the 500. He and I were in the same Duel race last Thursday. I got spun out and had to restart from the back of the field. That was where he was running so I just stuffed the nose of the Miller Lite Dodge to his bumper and kept pushing him forward. The next thing you know, we're in the top 10. After a late-race restart, we get up toward the front of the field. Brian almost led a lap at that point. I'm not sure what dynamic was going on that made our two-car draft work so well, but it was sure cool to see the Keselowski brothers going for it at Daytona.

It was special to me for several reasons. One, both my parents were there. My dad, Bob, serves as Brian's crew chief and my mom came down from Michigan. My parents are my heroes. We're a racing family, not all that different from the Pettys, you know, minus all the Daytona 500 wins and Cup championships. That's all we know and I know everyone was proud of Brian and I. Second, the outpouring of support from people wanting to help Brian was tremendous. Whether it was buying him tires, offering pit-crew support or working to get him sponsorship, that is what NASCAR is all about. That's what the sport was built on and if Brian and I took it back to its roots a bit, then I'm cool with that.

Now we go from one 10-day trip to another. Starting off the season with the sport's biggest race is cool and it makes NASCAR unique compared to the stick-and-ball sports. But Daytona is a restrictor-plate race. Those races make up four of the 36 events on the schedule. This weekend at Phoenix International Raceway and next weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway will give us a better understanding of where our program stands at the tracks that make up the majority of the schedule.

From the fans

This week's fan question comes from Blake McCandless. He wants to know if we can carry any momentum from last year's Nationwide Series championship over to the Cup Series effort this year.

Well Blake, that is definitely the plan. We moved several guys from last year's Nationwide crew up to the Cup Series for this year. That includes my crew chief, Paul Wolfe, as well as our car chief and tire specialist. We were really happy with the way the Nationwide crew gelled together in such a short time last season. That team wasn't complete until the end of January. It was hard to break them up, but you need to reward people for success and you hope their work ethic becomes infectious to the new team. I've seen positive results already from the moves that were made. It's an exciting time.

That's it for this week. Make sure you send in your questions to brad.keselowski@penskeracing.com. Tune in to the race at Phoenix this weekend. It should be some of the best racing of the year.

Behind the Wheel with Brad Keselowski runs every other Wednesday on NASCAR.COM as he shares his experiences throughout the season. The opinions expressed are solely those of Keselowski. Have a question for Brad? Submit inquiries to bradkeselowski@penskeracing.com and follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/keselowski.