| Brian Vickers in the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota.|
Credit: Tom Pennington, Getty Images Sport
The best-ever combined finish for the team came in April 2009 at Talladega with the No. 83 in eighth place and the No. 82 in fifth.
This Sunday’s result ties the team’s finish in March 2010 at Atlanta for third-best.
Vickers, who started in 19th and Kahne in 22nd, both managed to crack the top 10, but while Vickers remained toward the front of the pack most of the day, Kahne struggled with track position for a majority of the race.
The start of the season has been pretty consistent for Kahne, driver of the No. 4 Toyota, who placed in the top 10 in three out of the past five races, two of those being consecutive (one in Sunday’s race at Fontana and the other at last week’s race at Bristol).
Kahne’s Red Bull Racing teammate, Vickers, driver of the No. 83 Toyota, has not had the same luck, but this Sunday’s race brought confidence for the No. 83 team.
Vickers had the third-highest average running position (6.375) and passed more top-15 cars while under green than any other driver.
|Kasey Kahne on the grid at Auto Club Speedway.|
Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images for NASCAR
Kahne on the other hand, struggled all day with an ill-handling car, but was saved by a series of good pit stops, using a similar strategy to that of the No. 83 team.
Kahne appeared a bit discouraged during his pre-race press conference at Fontana and seemed to have the same attitude following Sunday’s race despite his top-10 finish, a definite improvement over last year’s finish of 34th.
“We were really bad and kept working on it. The team did a good job with pit stops. We came back to right there, to a top 10, but it was a tough race,” said Kahne.
“The car wouldn’t turn, we were really loose, but it wouldn’t turn for the first 150 laps and then we made some air pressure adjustments that our teammate, the 83 (Brian Vickers) worked pretty good with that. We kind of followed them and had good pit stops. We had good pit calls, made the car a lot better, but it was way off, we weren’t close when it started.”
Vickers seemed pleased with the No. 83 team’s performance in the Auto Club 400.
“We wanted to win, but I think everyone is pretty happy,” said Vickers.
“The way our luck has been, to be honest with you, we had a good car all day, we were competitive all day, we just couldn’t quite get that last little tight out. There at the end on the restart, that 09 (Landon Cassill) hurt us a lot when he spun his tires. The guys did a great job, this is just what the Red Bull pit crew needed — a good solid day.”
After his performance in the Auto Club 400, Kahne has entered the top 10 in the point standings and is now tied for 9th (alongside Paul Menard).
Vickers has gained seven spots in the points and is now 24th (14 points out of 20th position), following Sunday’s top-10 finish.
In post-race remarks in Fontana, Vickers spoke of his new spot in the standings, as well as both Red Bull Racing drivers’ top-10 finishes at Auto Club Speedway.
“After these five races, we weren’t out of the top-35, but we were close, we were like 20-something in the high twenties. So, to move up a little bit it definitely gives us a little more comfort going into Martinsville,” said Vickers.
“Kasey (Kahne) and I have been working great together, the teams have been working well together. We’ve had two good cars week in and week out. We just haven’t had the luck to go with it. We had a good run and he’s had a problem or vice-a-versa. It’s good for both of us be up front racing competitively.”
At next week’s race at Martinsville, the Red Bull Racing team will make an attempt at another best-combined finish and Kahne will go for his fourth top 10.
In this race last year, Kahne started 23rd and finished 17th, while teammate Vickers started 14th and finished 6th.