Red Bull Rundown: Kahne Sets Track Record and Vickers Has Door Ripped Off

Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR
The Red Bull Racing Team endured the craziness that is "The Lady in Black" this weekend at Darlington Raceway with Kasey Kahne nabbing his first pole of the season, a fourth place finish and a three spot gain in the points. Meanwhile, Brian Vickers was involved in a wreck which cost him significant track position and spots in the point standings.

Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 4 Red Bull Toyota, set a new track record on Friday at Darlington Raceway with a lap speed of 181.254 mph (27.131 seconds) - shattering the former record of 180.370 mph set by Jamie McMurray last November.

The pole is Kahne’s first of the season and his second since joining Red Bull Racing (the first of which was at Homestead-Miami Speedway last November). It is his fourth pole at Darlington and the 21st in his Sprint Cup Series career. Of his eleven career wins, five have come with him starting from the pole. At last week’s Sprint Cup race in Richmond Kahne started fourth, remained towards the front of the pack for much of the day, avoided a wreck involving Jeff Gordon and managed to finish third - in what was then his first top-5 of the season.

With the odds in his favor, Kahne went into Saturday night’s Showtime Southern 500 ready for his first victory of the season and first win for the Red Bull Racing Team. Kahne has yet to have a win in the past two seasons.

Before Saturday’s race, Kahne said the most important thing when driving at Darlington is to “stay focused for all 500 miles,” he said. “You can still finish well and hit the wall, it’s just how many times you do it at that place. When it’s really sunny and the sun is in your eyes going down the backstretch … it’s just so easy to make a mistake when you’re battling other cars and your tires are getting slippery.”

On Lap 93, Kahne hit the wall in turn two but managed to remain in the lead despite sustaining some damage. “When I was leading I hit the wall and killed the crush panels in the back,” Kahne said. “It ruined the rear of the car and then it didn’t turn as good either so that killed us for a while. The team did a great job with pit stops and just kept working on our Red Bull Toyota to get it better. I think we were a top two car probably minus the strategy there at the end. That was pretty good for as hard as it hit.”

Kahne led the most laps of the night (124) and was the highest finishing Toyota. His pole was the first for Toyota in the Sprint Cup Series this season.

Like his teammate,Vickers - driver of the No. 83 Red Bull Racing Toyota - also has a decent record at Darlington, starting in the top-8 three times and last season had a best finish of tenth at the track. It also doesn’t hurt that Darlington Raceway just so happens to be his favorite track on the circuit.

“Darlington is challenging, difficult, hard, weird,” said Vickers. “You really have to be patient and race the track. That’s something I’ve always enjoyed. I really like the old track (pre-repaving), but even the new track has all of it’s own new challenges.”

Vickers started eighth in Saturday night’s race and had a race-high position of fourth. He managed to remain up front even after making contact with the No. 42 Target Chevy of Juan Pablo Montoya.

On Lap 229, he made contact once again with a fellow driver (the No. 6 UPS Ford of David Ragan) but this time the left-side panel was ripped off of his No. 83 Red Bull Toyota. The team was able to find a replacement panel, rig up the number using tape and get Vickers back on the track.

The No. 83 Red Bull Toyota Team finished 34th and is ranked 29th in the point standings after losing three spots. Kahne gained three spots and now sits in 15th.

Kahne remains optimistic heading into the next few races - “We started pretty decent this year and then it seemed like these last couple we’ve been really good again,” he said. “We have Dover and Charlotte and some good tracks for us so we should be capitalizing on some points and get back to where we need to be.”

Next weekend the Sprint Cup Series heads to Dover International Speedway. Vickers has an average finish of 21.2 and a career-best finish of sixth at the Monster Mile. Teammate Kahne has three top-10 finishes and a career-best finish of sixth.
Red Bull Rundown: Kahne Sets Track Record and Vickers Has Door Ripped Off Red Bull Rundown: Kahne Sets Track Record and Vickers Has Door Ripped Off Reviewed by Unknown on Tuesday, May 10, 2011 Rating: 5