News & Media


Behind the Wheel: Cornucopia of racing on tap

May 18, 2011, Brad Keselowski, Special to NASCAR.COM, NASCAR.com

Memorial Day weekend offers something for all fans; Showdown, All-Star up first

Is there a better weekend for racing than Memorial Day weekend? We have two of the biggest races in the country happening on the same day with the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Here at Penske Racing we get to witness everything that goes into getting prepared for both of those races, under one roof. No other racing organization in America can boast that.

Throw in the Grand Prix of Monaco and this becomes a racer's dream weekend.

I've been asked this question several times -- and I'm sure Kurt [Busch] has, too -- as to whether or not I would have any interest in running the Indy 500? My response is, hell yeah! I have a team owner that I think could make it happen. However, and this is a self-imposed rule, I wouldn't even consider it until we get the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge program up to where it needs and deserves to be. That's where I have my focus.

If you are a loyal fan of Miller Lite, however, you have a chance to experience both. This year, thanks to Miller Lite and its TastePoints.com program, a few lucky fans will get a chance to take in both races this year. Starting in Indy, they will watch as Team Penske looks to pick up its record 16th Borg Warner trophy. They will hop a private plane, just like Mr. Penske will do, and fly to Concord, N.C., in time to watch the longest NASCAR race of the season. Two races and 1,100 miles of the best racing action you can find.

So, since I won't be turning laps at IMS until July at the Brickyard 400, we'll get ready for the All-Star weekend and the Coca-Cola 600. The last two races really have me excited about our chances at Charlotte. Darlington and Dover are two of the toughest, if not the toughest, race tracks on our schedule. We were able to parlay some great strategy by [crew chief] Paul [Wolfe] into a third-place finish at Darlington. We should have finished inside the top 10 at Dover and I take the blame for that. I think we are really close to hitting on what we need.

After two years of automatically qualifying for the All-Star Race, we have to transfer from the Showdown if we want to race for $1 million this year. The Showdown should be pretty intense this year. There are 10 to 15 cars that could easily win. And whoever the two cars are that transfer, plus the car that gets the fan vote, they usually have an upper hand when the green flag falls to start the All-Star Race. They've already run 40 laps, which is plenty of time to get your car dialed in.

If you are in the area for the 600 and need something fun to do on Memorial Day, look no further. I'll be hosting the first Race to the Checkered Flag bicycle race at the Penske Racing shop in Mooresville, N.C. There is a 62-mile ride, a 31-mile ride, and a fun ride, so there should be something for everyone. Lunch will be served and Blue Monday, a great '80s cover band, will provide the entertainment. For more information on the ride, visit www.checkeredflagfoundation.org. All of the proceeds from the event will go to help wounded veterans, families of wounded veterans and first responders throughout the United States.

This week's fan question comes from Julie Wyatt. She wants to know how you mentally prepare yourself for 600 miles, which is 100 miles longer than any other race on the schedule.

Thanks for the question, Julie. There is really not a lot you can do, other than making sure you are in the best possible condition when the race starts. Race weekends in Charlotte are a big deal. There is a lot going on with the Hall of Fame inductions and appearances. It's easy to find yourself caught up in everything and not getting enough rest. We all want to enjoy ourselves and have fun racing in Charlotte because we take a lot of pride in that track, but you have to be smart.

It's amazing how much longer those final 100 laps feel. It's no surprise that you see some of our most fit drivers win the Coca-Cola 600.

That's it for this week. Everyone have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend. Remember: Great Beer, Great Responsibility.

Behind the Wheel with Brad Keselowski runs every other Wednesday on NASCAR.COM as he shares his experiences throughout the season, both at and away from the track. 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.

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