|Kahne makes a pit stop during the Brickyard 400. After leading the most laps, he|
finished the race with an 18th place finish.
Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR
With a lot of uncertainty surrounding the Red Bull Racing Team and their decision to leave NASCAR after this season, one thing is certain, the team is in dire need of a win. A win can mean earning a wild-card spot in the Chase and landing sponsorship for the RBR team.
Prior to Sunday’s Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis, Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 4 Red Bull Toyota said that a win at the Brickyard would “make (a difference) for anybody interested in the team and Red Bull and how interested are they in staying in NASCAR. I think that would be awesome to win a big race like this and to finish the whole year strong. As far as the organization, I'm not sure where they're at right now. I'd like to ask them in another week or so and see if they're still making gains on that."
During Sunday’s race, both Red Bull Racing drivers (Kahne and Brian Vickers) had their moments when it seemed as though a victory was possible for the team, but ultimately everything came down to pit and fuel strategy and track position.
Kahne started Sunday’s 400-mile race on the outside of the front row, led the first lap and went on to lead a race-high 48 laps (out of 160).
“We started off really good,” Kahne said. “The Red Bull Toyota was really fast. We made some adjustments there early and stayed fast. The first time we got four tires … slow stop and gave up a bunch of spots there. Battled from there on. Just had a hard time betting back up there.”
Vickers, driver of the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota, started the race in 31st quickly made his way to the front of the pack.
With a caution brought out on lap 50, Kahne entered the pits in first and returned to the track in 10th with teammate Vickers right behind him. It wasn’t long before the No. 4 Red Bull Toyota was able to find himself back in the top 5.
On lap 114, Kahne restarted the race in 16th and Vickers in 18th. Just two laps after this, Landon Cassill’s No. 51 spun in turn three forcing Kahne and Vickers to drive through the grass and causing damage to the No. 4’s splitter. Kahne restarted the race in 24th and finished 18th, far from where he started earlier in the day.
“I knew I was going to go through the grass, thought the 51 was coming (down),” Kahne said. “I went through the grass and kind of spun and ended up further back. It ended up being a tough Brickyard 400 for us. But we were definitely one of the best cars. Out in clean air, we were definitely one of the best.”
Vickers found himself in as high as second, but with 17 laps to go, the team decided to pit for two tires and fuel, knowing they would be eight laps short. Vickers restarted the race in 23rd and rallied to a 15th place finish.
Kahne now sits 15th in the points standings and 55 points behind 10th place. Vickers dropped a spot to 27th, 83 points behind 20th.
Next the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Pocono Raceway where Kahne has had some luck with a win and two poles. Vickers also has a good record there with four top 5’s and a best finish of 2nd in 2008.
Kristina LaFountain's columns for Skirts and Scuffs include Red Bull Rundown, Under the Spotlight and Racing Toward a Cause. She is also a contributor for Speedway Media. You can follow Kristina online at @klafounta.