Red Bull Rundown: Where There's Fire, There's Kurt Busch for Vickers & Kahne at Dega

Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR

In Sunday’s race at Talladega, Red Bull Racing drivers Kasey Kahne and Brian Vickers started from opposite ends of the field but ultimately their day ended the same way – with the No. 22 of Kurt Busch in their rearview mirror.

Kahne started the Aaron’s 499 from the 31st position and Vickers started from ninth (his best start of the season). The excitement for the No. 83 team was short lived after Vickers was collected, for the fourth time this season, in yet another wreck that was beyond his control.

Bumper-to-bumper racing seems to have become a thing of the past at most of the superspeedways on the circuit, with two-car tandem racing taking over the season-opener at Daytona and now at Talladega, which is usually infamous for its action-packed racing that leads to big wrecks.

This style of racing has certainly stirred up opinions among fans, drivers and everyone involved in NASCAR. There is no denying that the two-car draft can either make or break a driver’s day. Kahne and Vickers both learned this very quickly during Sunday’s 500-mile race.

In the early laps of the race, the two Red Bull Racing drivers started 22 positions apart but still managed to partner up and make their way to the front. “When I was with Brian (Vickers) before Brian got taken out by whoever else wrecked there early, I think, myself and the Sheriff (Brian Vickers) were working pretty well together,” said Kahne. “We led laps, we were upfront and everything was good and then we lost him and from there it was just a struggle.”

It was on Lap 28 that the No. 22 of Kurt Busch made contact with the No. 09 of Landon Cassill sending him into the back of the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota. This caused Vickers to slide across the track and into the outside wall along the backstretch.

“From my perspective in the car, I was riding around minding my own business and we just got hit in the door,” said Vickers. “I just saw the replay coming out of the care center and it looked like Kurt (Busch) got into the left rear and turned the 09 (Landon Cassill) and we happened to be the unlucky victim.”

The No. 83 crew made every effort to get the car back on the track, repairing the car and making a driveshaft change which allowed Vickers to at least finish the race in 38th place.

Teammate Kahne would have a similar fate later in the race on Lap 90, getting caught up in an incident also involving the No. 22 of Busch.

Busch made contact with his teammate, the No. 2 of Brad Keselowski, who spun collecting the No. 6 of David Ragan. During Ragan’s ride up-and-down the track, Kahne hit the No. 6 which sent him on a fiery ride through the grass.

With flames shooting from the back of his No. 4 Red Bull Toyota and engulfed in a cloud of black smoke, Kahne eventually made his way to the opening of pit road where the safety crew was able to extinguish the fire.

Kahne’s reaction to his own wreck was similar to that of his teammate. “I saw the No. 2 (Brad Keselowski) go right and they started coming left, so I went left and then back right,” said Kahne. “We just ended up being in it.”

Once again the Red Bull crew went to work and were able to get Kahne back on the track to a 37th place finish, one spot ahead of teammate Vickers.

In post-race comments, Kahne and Vickers reacted to the two-car tandem racing style:

For Vickers, it’s almost as if the driver has to be in two cars at once - “You have to be able to communicate where you’re going to go,” said Vickers. “When you’re the guy in the back, it’s hard — it’s really hard. It’s hard to know where to go and where not to go and whether to keep pushing or not.”

With the two-car draft now becoming the racing style of choice at the superspeedways, not having a partner means getting left in the dust.

After losing Vickers as his partner, Kahne said, “I didn’t have a partner, so then I went and found one. We were a lap down because we were racing by ourselves half of the time.”

With the unfortunate events of Sunday’s race at Talladega, both Red Bull drivers have each dropped two positions in the points with Vickers now in 28th and Kahne in 18th.

Next week Red Bull Racing and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series head to Richmond for the Matthew and Daniel Hansen 400. Last year, Vickers finished 20th in the spring race at Richmond and Kahne finished 21st. Vickers also had his second-best start of the 2010 season at Richmond.
Red Bull Rundown: Where There's Fire, There's Kurt Busch for Vickers & Kahne at Dega Red Bull Rundown: Where There's Fire, There's Kurt Busch for Vickers & Kahne at Dega Reviewed by Unknown on Monday, April 18, 2011 Rating: 5