News & Media


Behind the Wheel: Making a go of it in non-companion events

October 06, 2011, Brad Keselowski, Special to NASCAR.COM, NASCAR.com

This is a pretty unique weekend with two new races at different race tracks, Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday and Kansas Speedway on Sunday. It also represents the first true non-companion weekend for me this season. While the Nationwide Series raced at Iowa on the Sunday following the All-Star Race, I never traveled back and forth between the two for practice or qualifying. Sam Hornish Jr. was a huge help in that department, which allowed me to just show up for the race. This weekend, however, will be full of logistical challenges that come with running in both series.

Kansas received its second Cup Series date from Auto Club Speedway. Chicagoland picked up another Nationwide Series race when Gateway, which had two Nationwide Series races in 2010, had to close its doors. Both Kansas and Chicagoland are great facilities that put on a good show. The two tracks are only around 500 miles apart and NASCAR helps out with the scheduling to allow us to make as much of the track activity as we can at Chicagoland. Still, I have to rely on Sam to help shake the car down for the first Nationwide Series practice. Not a bad guy to have helping you out -- he has an Indy 500 win, three IndyCar Series titles and two IndyCar wins at Chicago.

The most important thing you can do to help with the non-companion weekends is surround yourself with good people. It's so much easier when all you have to worry about is getting in the car. The logistics alone make it very taxing to go back and forth so anything you can do to alleviate strain will pay off. At the end of the day, I love driving race cars and I love competing in both the Cup Series and the Nationwide Series. The enjoyment of being able to race in both series far outweighs any of the travel issues associated with it.

One of the reasons that I still race in the Nationwide Series is because it played a large part in me getting where I am today. There would be no Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge in the Cup Series, without Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 22 Discount Tire/Ruby Tuesday Dodge in the Nationwide Series. And as the reigning champion, I feel it is my duty to continue to represent the series. That's why I was pumped when our team championship rings came in this week. I know how hard the guys worked last year to put together a great season and the rings are just a small token of appreciation. We're going to have a cookout here at the shop and distribute the rings next week to let everyone know how big of a deal the championship was to Penske Racing.

I truly believe that my Cup Series crew chief, Paul Wolfe, and I are on the verge of finding the chemistry that we had during that Nationwide Series championship season last year. He and the team have been building some fast Miller Lite Dodges over the last month and I can see us about to turn a big corner with this program. I was very pleased with the car at Charlotte. In looking back over how the race ended, I think we put ourselves in perfect position to win the race. Unfortunately, I had nowhere to go once the No. 4 car ran out of fuel. The fact that we were fast all race long gives me a lot of confidence as we head into the rest of the season, particularly because the intermediate tracks similar to Charlotte make up the majority of our schedule.

We have a big tire test this week at Kentucky Speedway and I'm honored to get to take part in it. This test will be very important because it will help determine the compound that we'll use in that first Cup race at Kentucky. We don't want any issues with tires at the first race. We want it to be a rousing success for those fans that have waited so patiently for a Cup race. Plus, if we learn anything about our car, it can be quickly applied this weekend at Kansas.

This week's fan question comes from Ray Wade. He wants to know my feelings on not getting a chance to defend my Nationwide Series title this season.

Thanks for the question, Ray. I completely understand what NASCAR is trying to do, but I wish they would've gradually implemented the rule over the course of a couple years. They did that a few of years ago with the rule that Cup teams could only have four cars in their stable. There are several sponsor agreements that run through the next two or three years. Those agreements were signed with the intent that their driver could run for the drivers' title so it would've been nice to let those agreements expire before implementing such a sweeping rule.

As I mentioned above, however, I still love racing in the Nationwide Series and I feel as though I will continue to do so, in some capacity, for several years.

That's it for this week. Make sure you send in your questions to brad.keselowski@penskeracing.com. I love going to the Midwest to race. My brother [Brian Keselowski] and I won a lot of late-model races in that part of the country. Check back in two weeks to see if I was able to add another win.

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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