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Behind the Wheel: Keselowski paying tribute to Wallace with Bristol scheme

August 24, 2012, Brad Keselowski, Special to NASCAR.COM, NASCAR.com



Behind the Wheel: Keselowski paying tribute to Wallace with Bristol scheme
Keselowski paying tribute to Wallace with 2000 paint scheme at Bristol

As I've said before, one of the things I enjoy the most about Twitter is the direct connection I get with my fans. I get a lot of different kinds of questions -- some are competition related; others deal with things going on in popular culture. But one question that keeps coming up often is, "when will you run a retro paint scheme?"

Well, I'm proud to say, the answer to that question is this weekend.

"Rusty was a master of Bristol. He won there a total of nine times and was always a threat at the "World's Fastest Half-Mile.""

--BRAD KESELOWSKI

The No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge is going back to the year 2000 with a throwback paint scheme to honor Rusty Wallace. The NASCAR Hall of Fame chose Bristol as the track where they would honor his induction into the Hall and we decided it would be the perfect time to do something like this.

There are lots of cool story lines here.

First, Rusty was a master of Bristol. He won there a total of nine times and was always a threat at the "World's Fastest Half-Mile." In the 2000 season we will harken back to this weekend, he swept both races, along with winning his 50th Cup Series race. So using this paint scheme was an easy choice for everyone at Penske Racing and MillerCoors.

To tie that in to the current state of the "Blue Deuce," we are also going for the season sweep this weekend. In fact, we're going for three wins in a row at Bristol. I've always respected the hell out of Bristol Motor Speedway. It's a man's race track and I always wanted to prove to myself I could win there. To get the first win out of the way last year was a great feeling, one of the best I've had in my racing career. To be on the doorstep of three in a row -- something that very few drivers have accomplished -- is something I couldn't even have imagined.

Now, it's a different Bristol than we've seen over the last few years. The progressive banking that made it possible to race, at times, three-wide has been ground away. I was able to race my own No. 29 Ram from Brad Keselowski Racing in Wednesday night's Truck race, so I have a better understanding of what is possible and what is not since they did that. Essentially the fast way around is the middle of the track. It's really easy to get out of shape on the bottom groove so we should see plenty of action Friday and Saturday night.

As a team, Penske Racing has enjoyed a lot of success at Bristol over the years. Many people don't know that Dave Marcis made the first start in the Penske Racing No. 2 at Bristol in 1973. Rusty made his first start in April of 1991 and all he did was win the pole and the race. Talk about setting a high bar off the bat! Six wins later and he is in the history books as one of the best to ever race on the high banks.

Kurt Busch is another driver with a stellar record at Bristol. He picked up another win for Penske Racing in 2006. With those guys preceding me, I had to make sure I did my part to continue the Miller Lite Dodge legacy at Bristol.

I like to think that Paul [Wolfe, crew chief] and I are not only continuing the tradition of the "Blue Deuce," but that we are also leaving our own mark. There is no doubt that when you think of the No. 2 Dodge, you think of the names like Rusty Wallace and Robin Pemberton. Paul and I want to add our names to that list.

So, it's going to be exciting on Saturday night. With only three races left before the Chase, and several drivers needing a win, we may just see an old school Bristol race.

Behind the Wheel with Brad Keselowski runs once a month on NASCAR.COM as he shares his experiences throughout the season, both at and away from the track. Follow him on Twitter at @keselowski. The opinions expressed are solely those of Keselowski.