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Behind the Wheel: Sense of American pride spurs charitable foundations

July 01, 2011, Brad Keselowski, Special to NASCAR.COM, NASCAR.com

American pride spurs charitable foundations; moving on from Richmond

I'm sure by now you've all heard about the demise of Osama bin Laden. If you are anything like me, the news brought back memories of that September day that now has been almost 10 years ago. For some, I hope his death brings some sense of closure to the tragedy of that day. For others, I hope it sends the message that we will never give up.

That a Navy SEAL team was the group that took him out is not surprising to me as they are one of our most elite fighting forces, but it is ironic. My cousin is a SEAL and he and some of his buddies came to Richmond last weekend to check out the race. We actually spent some time at a local military installation in the area on Thursday. They showed us around and we got to shoot some pretty awesome weaponry. These guys are very intense and I'm proud they are the ones protecting our freedom.


Brad Keselowski's Checkered Flag Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization that supports those who have sacrificed for us, including military, veterans, first responders and their families, among others. Facebook: www.fbook.me/CFF Twitter: BKCFF.

What will this mean moving forward? How will this event affect and shape our foreign policy and the war on terror? I'm sure that is something we are all curious to find out.

The military is something that is close to my heart and something that I take a lot of pride in working with. Last year I started my foundation, the Checkered Flag Foundation (www.checkeredflagfoundation.org), and our mission is to support those who sacrifice greatly for America. And it's not just current military personnel. We've worked closely with veterans and first-responders, too. And all of us at Penske Racing work with the Paralyzed Veterans of America (www.pva.org) as they help to change lives and build brighter futures for America's seriously injured heroes.

Normally I'm not a self-promoter and I don't like talking about charitable endeavors, but in light of this week's events I think we should all take a moment to realize how important our military, veterans and first-responders are. War is hell. A lot of good service men and women sacrificed greatly to bring down the threat of bin Laden. That is something that should not be forgotten. This should also be a time for remembrance.

Getting back to Richmond, I'm sure it was a race that everyone at Penske Racing would like to quickly put out of our minds. That's one of the great things about racing. You only have to wait one week to redeem yourself. Every team goes through races like we had last Saturday. It's what you do after those races that's important. Richmond left a sour taste in all of our mouths and we've all vowed to work as hard as we can to make sure we never go through that again.

Darlington is one of my favorite tracks. I wish we had more like it on the schedule. It's just a tough, old race track that is nothing like anywhere else we go. I never had the opportunity to race there when the asphalt was worn out and I would have loved that. Hopefully I'll have a long career and I'll be able to see it get back to that "slipping and sliding" racing that used to be so cool to watch on TV. Back in the day, the Southern 500 was one of our biggest races. It would mean a lot to me to have that trophy. The Miller Lite Dodge has had a lot of speed at Darlington over the years. Paul Wolfe [my crew chief] and I are going to do our best to ensure that continues.

This week's fan question comes from Billy Walker. He wants to know if losing one of our full-time Nationwide Series teams from last year affected the overall performance of Penske Racing as much as losing one of our Cup Series cars?

Thanks for the question, Billy. There are several goals for the Nationwide Series program. The first is that we are in the business of winning races, no matter what the series. But another thing is that the Nationwide Series program can help the Cup program, and vice versa. There is no doubt that losing one of our full-time Nationwide Series cars affects our Cup program. In a given race weekend you can glean a lot of information from Nationwide Series practice and qualifying -- whether that is tire wear, track conditions, etc. -- that you can apply to the Cup car since the Nationwide Series usually holds on-track activity before the Cup Series.

We're fortunate to still have Sam Hornish Jr. as a part-time competitor in the Nationwide Series. I think you can see that on the weekends where I have Sam as a teammate, we are more competitive than when I'm carrying the Penske Racing flag by myself in the Nationwide Series. That is due to crew chiefs, engineers and other team members getting together for a "skull session" to share information. The goal is to get back to where we were last year with at least three Cup Series cars and two Nationwide Series cars.

That's it for this week. I want to wish a Happy Mother's Day to my mom, Kay Keselowski, and all of the other mothers out there. Check back in two weeks to see how well I danced with the Lady in Black, and also how we ran at one of my other favorite venues, Dover International Speedway.

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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