News & Media


Behind the Wheel: Looking for a little redemption at Loudon

September 22, 2011, Brad Keselowski, Special to NASCAR.COM, NASCAR.com

Tire failure ruined fast car earlier this year at New Hampshire; now, life is good

Things couldn't be much better in my world right now. We made the Chase and had a solid day in Chicago on Monday. The Miller Lite Dodge Charger team is just outside the top five in points with some of our best tracks ahead of us.

But more about that later.

Bouncing back


Brad's misfortune at NHMS left him 23rd in the standings. He scored only nine points in that race; he scored less in just one other race. He since has seven top-10s in eight starts with a worst finish of 12th and now sits sixth in points.

First, I want to talk about my University of Michigan Wolverines football team. They are back inside the Top 25, thanks to some heroic play by Denard Robinson and a much-improved defense. I had the opportunity to visit a practice when we were racing in Michigan and I could tell there was a lot of excitement around new coach Brady Hoke. I think they are building for a great future in Ann Arbor.

This weekend will definitely be interesting as they take on San Diego State, Hoke's former team. They have a pretty stout running back, from what I've read, and they are undefeated. Somebody has to lose. I hope it's the Aztecs.

As much as I am a fan of college football and the Wolverines, my focus will be on having another good weekend when we get to Loudon on Friday. In my mind, Chicago was one of the weaker tracks for us in the Chase. To come out of there with a fifth-place finish was exactly what we needed to do. There are a lot of guys in the Chase that can't say the same thing. Now we go to a portion in the schedule where I think we can really do some damage. Thinking back to the spring race at Loudon, that's a race we'd all like to have back. We had a fast car, but we had a tire failure and finished 35th. That really hurt our chances of getting into the top 10 and being able to use our bonus points. But we've qualified well the last two races and I can't help but think that we've made our program better since then.

It's always a lot of fun when we go up to Loudon to race. The fans really love what we do and they show it by filling the stands. It's one of those tracks we can go to and almost guarantee that it will be sold out. The racing that we put on at New Hampshire sometimes gets a bad rap, but I think it has produced some of the most exciting finishes over the last few years. It's a 1-mile track, but it races like a short track. There is a lot of beating and banging and bumping and running -- all of the things that the fans love.

This week's fan question comes from Greg in Charlotte. He wants to know how important it was for the team to get off to a solid start last weekend at Chicago.

Thanks for the question, Greg. You know, unfortunately, the first race of the Chase came down to fuel mileage. We were fortunate that [crew chief] Paul [Wolfe] made some great pit calls and we were able to capitalize on our ability to conserve fuel. We'll take that every time. However, if we had been on the opposite end of that scenario, it could have proven to be damaging to our title hopes.

As it is, we are tied for sixth in points. We have some great tracks coming up for us. Minimizing your poor finishes when you don't have a car that is quite capable of winning is key to winning the championship.

That's it for this week. These first few races in the Chase are critical. You can't win the title in the first half of the Chase, but you can sure lose it.

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.

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