Red Bull Rundown: Kahne Has Something to Shoot for Following Chicagoland

Vickers strolls down pit road during the rain delay at Chicagoland.
Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR
Although the Red Bull Racing Team is not competing for the championship, they are still competing for wins and points. After the incident involving Marcos Ambrose in last week’s race at Richmond, it was important for Brian Vickers and Kasey Kahne to stay out of trouble this week – easier said than done in the first race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Vickers started from the 8th position and Kahne started mid-pack in 24th in Monday’s Geico 400, which was postponed from Sunday because of rain.

While Vickers was unable to compete in last year’s race at Chicagoland, in the 2009 season he started from the pole and went on to finish 7th. Kahne started 12th and finished 6th in last year’s race.

In Monday’s event, Vickers and Kahne managed to avoid other people’s wrecks and stay of out the way of those charging to the front to vie for the win and gain spots in the Chase. However, Kahne made contact with the wall, which cost him significant track position.

“Oh man, I had a really, really good car,” Kahne said. “The team did a great job and the engine was awesome — everything was as good as it’s been all season long except I screwed up and hit the wall. When I did that, I messed the back of the car up pretty bad so we had to work on it the whole race trying to get our lap back. By the end we were actually really fast again, but the car was still screwed up from where it should have been. We had a winning team today and I just made a mistake and we didn’t get to run in the top five and shoot for that. But, we definitely had the best car we’ve had in a long time.”

Around lap 70 under the second of six cautions throughout the day, Kahne also had another bout of bad luck. The No. 4 Red Bull Toyota was sent to the rear of the field for pitting too soon and speeding while exiting pit road.

With just 56 laps to go, Kahne found himself racing Denny Hamlin to be in position to receive the lucky dog in case of a caution. Just two laps later, the sixth and final caution of the day was called for debris and Kahne found himself the recipient of the free pass and able to gain his lap back.

The end of the race came down to fuel mileage and with cars stalling all around them, Kahne and Vickers crossed the finish line in 12th and 13th respectively.

Speaking on his day at Chicagoland, Vickers said “it was okay, I was disappointed. I felt like we had a better car than that Saturday. We just never could get the most out of it today. The balance was right, we just didn’t have a lot of speed.”

Next week the Sprint Cup Series heads to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the second time this season. NHMS was formerly the host of the first race of the Chase until this season when it was moved to Chicagoland.

In 15 starts at the track Kahne has one top-five and six top-10s with a best finish of 4th. Vickers has pole, one top-five and one top-10 and a best finish of 5th.

In their last visit to the track back in July, Kahne and Vickers collided into each other while Kahne was searching for room along the outside near Dave Blaney while exiting turn four. Kahne finished sixth after starting 10th and Vickers finished 34th after starting 21st.

Looking ahead to the final races of the season Kahne said, “I feel like we’re definitely — this is the best I’ve felt leaving a track as far as feeling like we have something to shoot for now because of how good the car was even though we didn’t run that well — we didn’t finish where we wanted to or where we should have. I just know we made some gains and I think we’ll prove that here in the next few weeks.”

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
Red Bull Rundown: Kahne Has Something to Shoot for Following Chicagoland Red Bull Rundown: Kahne Has Something to Shoot for Following Chicagoland Reviewed by Unknown on Tuesday, September 20, 2011 Rating: 5