Monday, September 26, 2011

Red Bull Rundown: Brian Vickers Earns Best Starting Position of the Season

Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs
Sunday's Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS) was quite eventful for the Red Bull Racing Team. Brian Vickers had his best starting position of the season, while Kasey Kahne's overall performance was not reflected by his finish.

Vickers held on to the pole throughout much of qualifying. With just five cars left to take their laps, rain came along and delayed the whole process. When qualifying finally restarted, each car that went seemed to be better than the last. Kahne went out fourth and was able to nab the pole from Vickers.

Although Ryan Newman ultimately earned the top starting position, Kahne and Vickers started the race in the second and third positions, not bad for a team who prior to the race had a combined average finish this season of 15.25.

This may have been the best race of the season for Vickers who earned his best starting position of the season. He led four laps, the first time leading this season and took home his second top-five finish of 2011 and overall at NHMS. Vickers was also the highest finishing Toyota driver of the race.

"The last two runs we were awesome," said Vickers following Sunday’s race. "The car was so good, probably one of the better cars on the track. We had to pass 20 cars just to get back to the top-five and ran out of time, but I’m really proud of the effort by everyone."

Kahne’s second-place starting position marked his 16th top-five start this season. With one of the most dominant cars on the track, Kahne led on four different occasions for a race total of 43 laps and when he wasn’t leading he was running in the top three of four. Once again, the race came down to fuel mileage and the No. 4 Red Bull Toyota team just didn’t have the best strategy.

Around lap 200 after Kahne decided not to pit in order to maintain the lead, it was announced that the team was off pit sequence and that they would have to pit at least two more times in order to make it to the end.

Kahne pit with just 16 laps remaining and was unable to catch up. He crossed the finish line in 15th.

"We had a good car, top two, three all day," Kahne said. "We just didn’t have very good fuel mileage and didn’t think we could make it. So we were hoping for cautions, never got them and ended up 15th. Just didn’t work out for us, but we had a great car."

Kahne had two poles this season as well as eight top-10s, with a highest finish of third at the April Richmond race. In the last five races Kahne has had one top-10 finish and that was at Michigan. Vickers has had six top-10s in 2011. His highest finish in the last five races was his fifth place finish in this weekend’s Sylvania 300.

Kahne and Vickers are now 20th and 26th in the point standings respectively and head to Dover International Speedway next for the third race of the Chase.

When the NSCS visited Dover in the spring, Vickers earned his highest finish of the season prior to this past weekend nabbing a fifth place finish after starting 15th. Kahne didn’t have as much luck at the “Monster Mile.” Despite starting fourth, his engine failed taking out of the race early.

In 15 starts at Dover, Kahne has three top-10 finishes with a career-high finish of 6th. Vickers has had some success taming the monster with one top-five, two top-10s and a best finish of fifth.

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