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Behind the Wheel: Good road finish, time for some Fourth fun

June 30, 2011, Brad Keselowski, Special to NASCAR.COM, NASCAR.com

NASCAR racing was built on speed, rubbing fenders, drivers getting upset and exciting finishes. There is one style of racing these days that provides all of that: road-course racing. This past weekend's race at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma was no exception. Well, except for the exciting finish. This time my teammate, Kurt Busch, beat everyone into submission. We were able to bring home a top-10 finish in the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge. That's almost like a win for me.

Road-course races are often overlooked as anomalies that allow "ringers" to come in and steal the thunder of the Cup regulars. On the contrary, the last ringer to win a Cup race was Mark Donohue (yep, in a Penske Racing-prepared AMC Matador) at Riverside Speedway in 1973. Ironically, that was also the first Cup win for Penske Racing. The reality is, Cup drivers are better at turning right and left than most people give them credit for. And having to figure out how to get around a road course two to three times a year is easier to overcome than learning the nuances of how a Cup car drives.

Personally, I didn't care much for road-course racing when I was first starting out. It seemed to be a struggle every time out. But the more I was able to practice it, the "easier" it has become. I was very proud of my No. 22 Discount Tire Dodge team last year as we garnered more points during the three road-course races than any other Nationwide Series team. That gave me a lot of confidence moving into this season.

For those of you counting at home, that's two wins, four poles, four top-five finishes and six top-10 finishes in the last five Cup Series races for Penske Racing. Numbers like that make the Richmond race seem like it was years ago. I can't put into words how proud I am to be a part of this organization. A turnaround like that, in the middle of the season, is not an easy thing to accomplish. Now we get to move on to Daytona, a place that probably owes us a decent finish. We've had very fast race cars on the restrictor-plate tracks this year -- the Miller Lite Dodge led laps at both Daytona and Talladega earlier this year -- with nothing to really show for it.

I love racing on the Fourth of July weekend. There are few holidays that speak to the American spirit more than the Fourth. It's definitely one of those days that bring friends and families together. As a kid, I remember my family getting together and watching the [Coke Zero] 400. It might not have the tradition of the Daytona 500 or Southern 500, but this race and this date on the schedule is every bit as important to the series as those events. It's one of my favorite races of the year because it's a time to have some fun, while remembering those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom.

This week's fan question comes from David Anthony of Virginia. He wants to know my thoughts on my 2009 win at Talladega and how it helped develop the two-car draft that we see on restrictor-plate tracks today.

Thanks for the question, David. It's certainly cool to have been a part of something so innovative as the two-car draft. I really think that it will be the way we race on restrictor-plate tracks for the foreseeable future. It's an evolutionary period in our sport. It was my first win, which makes it very special to me, but to have it come in that fashion definitely adds another layer to the win.

We had seen instances in the past where two cars could hook up and really pick up speed, but I think everyone saw what the two-car draft could do that weekend at Talladega. When the race restarted for the final time with about four laps to go, I knew that pushing Carl [Edwards] was the only chance either one of us had at a good finish. Based on what we had learned throughout the weekend, I was confident that we could make it work.

That's it for this week. I hope everyone has a fun and safe Fourth of July holiday. If you have too many Miller Lites on Monday, please let someone else light the fireworks.

Behind the Wheel with Brad Keselowski runs every other week 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.