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Behind the Wheel: Brad packing for 'Dega

May 03, 2012, Brad Keselowski, Special to NASCAR.COM,

Keselowski reluctantly prepares for return of pack racing at superspeedway

The pack is back at Talladega this weekend. I really don't prefer pack racing over tandem drafting, or vice versa. But if you guys wanted to see us back in the big packs then I'm cool with it. I will say that while NASCAR has eliminated our ability to tandem race for the entire event, I think it will come down to that at the end.

We had a car in the Daytona 500 that I believe could have made things interesting had we not been caught up in a wreck that happened right in front of me. Our car this weekend should be even better, so I'm excited about our chances to get another win. One more win should give us a great shot at qualifying for the Chase this year, but we really want to get inside the top 10.

"Talladega is a special place for me. I won my first Cup race there, along with my first race for Penske Racing ... It's pretty awesome to be on a list with names like Earnhardt, Labonte and Irvin. "


Talladega is a special place for me. I won my first Cup race there, along with my first race for Penske Racing. There are only 10 of us that have won races in both series at Talladega. It's pretty awesome to be on a list with names like Earnhardt, Labonte and Irvin. Over the course of my career I've been able to learn from some great restrictor-plate racers, so I always have a good feeling when I get to Talladega or Daytona. And Penske Racing always builds fast speedway cars, so that doesn't hurt.

* Video: Keselowski talks 'Dega on Preview Show

While all of the other drivers and teams will be filing out of Talladega after the race, I'll be sticking around to take part in something that really means a lot to me. A few years ago I started the Checkered Flag Foundation to benefit wounded military members or first responders, and their families.

I wanted to do my part in making a difference in the lives of these people that make so many sacrifices for us. That's when I came up with the Race2Recovery program. We work with local VA hospitals in various race markets to identify wounded military and first responders who get back on their feet at an accelerated pace. Those men and women, along with their primary care giver -- their "crew chief," so to speak -- are invited to the track for the entire weekend, culminating with full-speed laps in a specially-built, two-seater with either me or Parker Kligerman. We don't take it easy on them with laps at half-speed. We drive these cars as fast as they will go because I want to give them a first-hand experience. Our first event of 2012 was last weekend in Richmond and our next is Monday at Talladega.

I'm usually not one to get caught up in milestones or numbers. I just want to focus on making my teams better each week. Next weekend's race at Darlington, though, will be my 100th Cup Series start. I know there are a lot of drivers with way more starts than that, but when you're a kid growing up and dreaming about driving racecars for a living, you don't really have a total number of races in your mind. I'm proud of what I've been able to accomplish, but I have a lot more that I want to do, especially in the Cup Series with the Miller Lite Dodge. I was able to get Discount Tire a Nationwide Series championship. I want to do the same for Miller Lite and Mr. Penske.

What will the sport look like in 100 more starts from now? Since my first Cup start at Texas in November of 2008 we've seen the rear wing disappear, fuel injection introduced and the emergence of this thing called Twitter. Will we have a new racetrack? Will we take the Cup Series to another country?

I can't wait to find out.

That's all for me. We're getting to an exciting part of the schedule with Darlington, Charlotte and Dover coming up. Be sure to check back in to see how the 'Blue Deuce' and Discount Tire Dodges fair over the next few weeks.

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.