Red Bull Rundown: Kahne Brings Home Best Finish of Season

Kahne and CC Kenny Francis in the garage.
Credit: Debbie Ross for Skirts and Scuffs
Kasey Kahne finished second to Jimmie Johnson in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway earning the Red Bull Racing Team’s best finish of the season.

Kahne turned 27 of the fastest laps, but was never quite able to catch Johnson before crossing the finish line.

After starting fifth, Kahne caught a bought of bad luck under the first caution of the day. On lap 21 Kahne pitted for two tires, meanwhile the jack broke causing Kahne to restart the race in 40th.

“We had a good Red Bull car,” Kahne said, “came in third that first stop and the jack broke, so we had to get a new jack and came out dead last and just kind of battled our way back up through there the rest of the race.”

Following the incident, Kahne drove the wheels off his No. 4 Red Bull Toyota and eventually found himself back in the front of the pack. Under the fifth caution of the day with just 28 laps to go, crew chief Kenny Francis made a risky call to pit for tires and top off with fuel with Kahne sitting in sixth. The gamble paid off and following the stop Kahne was able to race his way from 12th to fifth.

Just when it was looking as though the No. 4 team might take home a fifth-place finish, the No. 24 of Jeff Gordon starting smoking which setup a green-white-checkered finish – just what Kahne needed to be able to catch up to Johnson.

Kahne restarted on the inside and put the pedal to the metal, but in the end he was just .548 seconds shy of Johnson when crossing the finish line.

The highest finishing non-Chase driver for two consecutive weeks, Kahne earned his best finish in nine starts at Kansas. It was also his second consecutive top-five and fifth of the season and his 10th top-10.

“We had good strategy there,” said Kahne. “Kenny Francis did a nice job. We had a pretty fast Red Bull Toyota. Jimmie (Johnson) just beat me on the restart. I spun the tires some — he jumped a little prior to where I thought he would so he kind of beat me. Brad (Keselowski) gave me a good push. I had a good run and then he just kind of used the whole track up in (turn) three and I was in bad air and had no shot. The guys did a good job. It was a good day for us and we’ll just keep working.”

Vickers who started from 15th was not happy at all with his No. 83 Red Bull Toyota. For the first half of the race Vickers battled with what he described as the “tightest car I’ve ever driven.” By the time the team was able to make adjustments to the car to help the handling, Vickers was already two laps down.

On lap 205 under a caution for debris, Vickers received the wave around and was able to gain one lap back, but after never earning a free pass, he crossed the finish line in 19th. In seven starts at Kansas, Vickers has an average finish of 17.9 and best finish of eighth.

Kahne earned one spot in the point standings, now sitting in 16th. Vickers remained in 26th.

Following Sunday’s race Kahne discussed finishing out the end of the season on a high note in his final races driving for the Red Bull Racing Team and most likely the final races for the team in general.

“The biggest thing to me would be to leave on a good note. There’s a lot of people there working really hard and unsure about maybe their future and where they’re going to work next year, and they’re still putting everything they have into our race cars each week. That’s pretty awesome on their part. Kenny Francis (crew chief) is doing — just always is looking, him and Keith Rodman, they’re always looking to make the car just a little bit better, how can I do this, how can I do that, so we’re always working together trying to do that. I’m fortunate to go with him (Kenny Francis) next year, so we’re working on things for next year as well as just trying to finish strong this year.”

Saturday the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Bank of America 500. In the series’ last visit to the track in May, Vickers finished right where he started in 18th. He has two top-fives and three top-10s in 13 starts. Charlotte is undoubtedly one of Kahne’s best tracks on the circuit with three wins, five top-fives and seven top-10s. Kahne finished 22nd in the Coca-Cola 600.
Red Bull Rundown: Kahne Brings Home Best Finish of Season Red Bull Rundown: Kahne Brings Home Best Finish of Season Reviewed by Unknown on Tuesday, October 11, 2011 Rating: 5