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Behind the Wheel: Best medicine is a win

August 11, 2011, Brad Keselowski, Special to NASCAR.COM, NASCAR.com

There are many different ways to overcome adversity. Sometimes it can be as simple as forcing yourself to get out of bed in the morning. Other times, adversity can come at you in the form of an injury or ailment at the wrong possible time. Without a doubt, the ankle and back injuries that I suffered last week while testing at Road Atlanta came at a time when all that my Penske Racing team and I needed to be focusing on was making the Chase.

When you have to dig down deep and find out what you're made of, good things can happen.

Brad takes a break in Victory Lane to rest his injuries. (Getty Images)

Legging it out


Brad Keselowski made a statement of mental and physical toughness, commitment and teamwork, writes Dave Rodman.

All drivers go into a race weekend thinking they will end up in Victory Lane, but I knew after the first practice on Friday at Pocono that I had a car capable of doing it. Despite my injuries, once I was inside the car, I didn't feel that bad. When you have a fast car you can put pain and discomfort out of your mind much easier. If I had an ill-handling Miller Lite Dodge last weekend, it would've been a very long race. The biggest issue for me was my level of endurance. It had definitely gone down after having to lie around for several days. I'm sure most of the other drivers hated to see the rain delay, but it was a perfect time for me to regroup for the second half of the race.

I've heard people describe the performance last weekend in the same vein as Willis Reed in the 1970 NBA Finals or fellow Michigan native Kirk Gibson in the 1988 World Series. I don't know about any of that. All I know is that my team has worked their guts out to give me great race cars. We're in position for a trip to the playoffs and I wanted to show them that I have their back, just like I know they have mine.

Inspiration can also come in many forms. It can be a few words of encouragement, or a selfless act from someone you don't even know. Athletes use encouragement all the time. It just so happens that my cousin trains military special forces. He knew one of the Navy SEALs who went down in the helicopter accident in Afghanistan. Everyone knows that I'm a patriotic guy. I was very close to going into the military myself. Those guys that pay the ultimate sacrifice are the real heroes. The men and women that come home in a wheelchair or with prosthetic limbs are the ones who should be revered. But they don't want to be looked upon that way. Thinking about that selflessness is what helped me to push through last weekend when I didn't have much left in the tank.

* Get behind Brad's Checkered Flag Foundation

I felt much better on Monday after a good night's rest. A win is good medicine, too. It's just going to take time to let everything heal properly. Good race cars make it very easy on you when you're hurt or sick and [crew chief] Paul [Wolfe] and the team have been building excellent cars this season. If there is a silver lining to the wreck at Road Atlanta, it's that we weren't testing our primary car for Watkins Glen. That car is still in one piece. It will still be uncomfortable this weekend, but I'll have to man up one more time because we don't have time to let injuries get in the way of making the Chase.

This week's fan question comes from Kaylee. She wants to know what track I think is the toughest to race on and why it's so hard to pass there?

Thanks for the question, Kaylee. In my opinion the hardest track to pass on is New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The preferred groove is right in the middle of the track. If you try to go to the bottom to pass someone, you typically get too loose to complete the pass. You can try to make it work on the outside, but it's very dirty up in that area and you pick up track debris with your hot tires.

Personally, I think the racing this year has been great. There's been lots of first-time winners. We're able to race side-by-side a lot more than in the past. But our cars need banking to do that and Loudon just doesn't have any.

That's it for this week. Watkins Glen this weekend presents a big challenge for us to continue our climb into this year's Chase. By no means do I consider myself a road-course racer, but the Miller Lite Dodge did pick up a top-10 at Sonoma earlier this year. If we can do that again, we should be in good shape heading into Michigan in two weeks.

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.