BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Growing up in suburban Detroit, Brad Keselowski gravitated toward cars, which were a vital part of his family's makeup.
His father, grandfather, and uncle drove competitively and the Keselowski clan made it a point to bring their children to their races.
Years later, there's one trip that stood out to Keselowski -- a trip to Toledo Speedway.
"I can remember being 5 or 6 years old and being snuck into the pits there, in the trunk of an old car," Keselowski said.
As Keselowski got older, he found more legal and less risky ways to get into local tracks -- ways that didn't mean having to buy a ticket. He worked for his parents' racing team. He drove cars on regional tracks. Now, as a driver for Penske Racing, the Rochester Hills, Mich., resident returns to his backyard to race in a pair of NASCAR events this weekend at Michigan International Speedway: Saturday's Nationwide Series Alliance Truck Parts 250 and Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400.
Keselowski is currently 10th in points (426) in the Sprint Cup Series standings, with a pair of wins March 18 in the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, and May 6 in the Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. He's also raced in 10 Nationwide races this season, with a win May 26 in the History 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
"He's come in with an attitude of a winner," team owner Roger Penske said of Keselowski after the win at Talladega. "Probably the greatest attribute he has is being a team player. It's not about Brad, it's about what's going on with the team. He says it every day. Whether it's at the engine shop, with Dodge, Miller, any of our sponsors, he's obviously there supporting it."
Keselowski finished third at the Pure Michigan 400 last August, but has finished no higher than 25th in four prior Sprint Cup starts at MIS.
"For the most part, I have not ran well at Michigan on the Cup level, so I'm hungry to just have a good, strong, consistent run where we can be a threat for the win," said Keselowski, who drives a Miller Lite Dodge. "Certainly I'm hungry to run well every week. Michigan is just a little bit extra special."
He'll do it with his family nearby -- including his dad, Bob, who snuck him into Toledo Speedway, then brought him back to Toledo as part of K Automotive Motorsports, his parents' racing team operation, in which he handled the computer input for the race team while driving competitively at regional tracks.
From his father, Keselowski explained, he learned the fundamentals of having a strong work ethic, maintaining accountability, and the lengths his father went to, in order to ingrain the culture of racing into him -- even if it meant stashing him in the trunk of a car to get a closer look at the pits.
"I don't look back in anger or frustration or disappointment," Keselowski said. "I look back and I think of how lucky I am to be where I'm at right now in this sport, and how he was certainly the leader in putting me in this position."
Keselowski even asks for another shot at driving in the Glass City 200 -- scheduled for Sept. 29, the same weekend as the Sprint Cup Series' AAA 400 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.
"I miss running there," Keselowski said of Toledo Speedway. "One day, I'd like to do that again.
"Some of my early racing memories took place there and will always have a place near and dear in my heart. It's a great track and I'm glad to be back in that vicinity, back in Michigan.
"Obviously Toledo is in Ohio but it's right on the border there, so we spent a lot of time in that area. Still, it means a lot to be able to come back and race, and race with competitive teams like I have at Penske Racing."
GOING GREEN: NASCAR Green will bring its recycling and environmental sustainability efforts to MIS this weekend. Fans who visit the Sprint Experience, Sprint's mobile marketing display at MIS, can pick up a pre-addressed, postage-paid envelope to recycle their used wireless phones, batteries, and accessories from any carrier and in any condition. There will also be 500 Coca-Cola recycling bins in the track complex, and every car on the track will run on Sunoco Green E15 ethanol fuel. NASCAR driver Austin Dillon will drive the No. 33 American Ethanol Chevrolet and stars in a 30-second national television commercial that highlights the benefits of U.S.-made ethanol on TNT.
Contact Rachel Lenzi at: email@example.com, 419-724-6510 or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.