It's good to be back
After an eventful offseason, it's time for the Daytona 500 -- the biggest race on our schedule and one of the biggest sporting events in the world. The new car, the "Gen-6" car, will be used for the first time in a points-paying race when the green flag flies this Sunday. The last time we debuted a new car was in 2007, when the "Car of Tomorrow" appeared at Bristol Motor Speedway.
NASCAR has used the phrase that the new car "puts the stock back in stock car racing." It really makes the Cup Series cars look just like their counterparts on the street. While all the aesthetics are great, we have to ensure that this new car produces racing that will put people in the stands and in front of their television sets.
ESPN.com Topics brings you full coverage of the Daytona 500, as NASCAR's top drivers prepare for the latest edition of The Great American Race.
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Beyond the look, the new cars are 150 pounds lighter and are more of a handful to drive in a big pack. It's definitely going to make for an interesting Daytona 500. We've already seen several multicar wrecks in testing and in the preseason races. There is an old saying in racing that "to finish first, you must first finish." That's the goal for Sunday. You have to be around at the end.
On top of the new generation race car, we have also made a manufacturer change at Penske Racing. For the first time in over a decade, we'll be aligned with Ford. If there was ever a time to make a manufacturer change, it was this year, since we will be building new cars anyway.
It's almost as if my career has come full-circle. I made my first NASCAR start in the Camping World Truck Series in 2004 driving a Ford F-150 for my family's race team. Since that day, I've switched manufacturers several times and won a Sprint Cup championship and a Nationwide Series championship. But it feels good to be back in the "Blue Oval" camp. Its level of engagement, from the top down, is amazing. I see great potential in this partnership and I'm excited about what's in store for us in the coming years.
Speaking of championships, the respect that everyone has shown me since winning the Sprint Cup title last year is probably the coolest part about being the defending champion. I've been asked a lot about what the biggest difference is since the final race of last year, and I have to say that's it. You're not going to see anything different when it comes to my approach or the approach of the team. We are going into each race weekend like we still have something to prove, because to us, we do. We want to win multiple championships. We all feel that Penske Racing has the resources and the people to get the job done.
We've made some great additions to the organization during the past few months, including Joey Logano as my new teammate. I'm thrilled that we were able to bring him on board because I feel that he is just now entering the prime of his career. At only 22 years old, he already has four years of Cup Series experience to go along with his talent. The fresh start provided to him by Mr. Penske should be just what he needs. I look for us to make each other better and to continue to raise the profile of Penske Racing.
Winning the Daytona 500 is the dream of every stock car racer. You don't want to miss the race this Sunday to see who will add their name to the Harley J. Earl Trophy.Brad Keselowski drives the No. 2 Miller Lite Ford Fusion. He will share his thoughts on and off the track with ESPN.com readers periodically this season.
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