By far one of the coolest -- if not the coolest -- part about being a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion is the respect you get from peers, colleagues and people that you yourself admire. That and the No. 1 parking spot in the garage! Getting an opportunity to go to the White House last month and be honored by President Obama for our 2012 season was one of those moments.
I don't think I ever envisioned myself sitting on the south lawn of the White House with the President of the United States, Roger Penske, crew chief Paul Wolfe and the Miller Lite Ford. I know that was a moment that made my family proud.
As much as I enjoy reflecting back on the title last season, I'm always looking forward. It was definitely time for us to win a race, any race, in 2013. We were able to do that in last week's Nationwide Series race at Richmond. I really wanted to get a Nationwide win before turning the car over to Joey Logano because I know he can go on a tear in that series. Now that we have that one out of the way, I think the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford team is ready to take off.
Stepping out of the Discount Tire car is never easy. I love that series. I feel I have a vested interest in that program with what we've been able to do since 2010. But I know that the team is in good hands with Joey, Ryan Blaney and crew chief Jeremy Bullins.
It will allow me to totally focus on the Miller Lite Ford in the Sprint Cup Series for the next few weeks, starting at Talladega this weekend. Even though so many things are different for us this season, we are still the defending champions of the race. That always gives you a certain amount of confidence. Talladega is definitely a special place for me. I got my first Cup win there in 2009. My first win with Penske Racing came in a 2010 Nationwide Series race there. It would be the perfect place to get our first Cup win of the season.
The weekend at Talladega started on Thursday night with the International Motorsports Hall of Fame induction ceremony for the 2013 class. My good friend and motorsports writer, Lewis Franck, presented me with the 2012 Driver of the Year Award. The award is the oldest of its kind in the United States. The list of winners is unbelievable, including Mario Andretti, Mark Donohue, Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. To see my name beside theirs is pretty surreal.
That, in and of itself, would have made for a great night. But to sit in the audience and listen to some great names in motorsports be inducted was really cool. Rusty Wallace, the original driver of the "Blue Deuce," was first. Earlier this year I helped introduce him at his NASCAR Hall of Fame induction, so it was nice to be there for this, too. He really set a high bar for anyone following him in that iconic car.
He was followed by former crew chief Dale Inman who, as his driver -- "The King," Richard Petty -- said , is an icon in the world of motorsports. Don Schumacher, the drag racing team owner preceded Rick Hendrick, who ended the night. Those are four heavy hitters in the world of motorsports.
It was a fun night, and I'm glad I was able to be a small part of it.
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.