Their two cars didn’t run into each other this time around, but perhaps that’s not enough to call the Carfax 400 at the Michigan International Speedway a success for the Red Bull Toyota NASCAR team.
Like the first Michigan race in June, the pair of Red Bull cars spent most of the race running in close quarters, but unlike the earlier race where Scott Speed was spun by temporary teammate Casey Mears, the pair of Red Bull cars stayed in formation for most of the second half of the race and crossed the line without incident.
What didn’t change from two months ago was the simple fact that the team continued to struggle to find speed on the two-mile, D-shaped Michigan oval.
After qualifying 31st for the race, Speed’s No. 82 Red Bull Toyota finished six spots better in 25th, while his latest teammate Reed Sorenson managed to improve eight places from his 34th on the grid to end the 400-mile race in 26th.
The result put Speed 27th in points, 415 out of the top-20 spot he set as his goal for the 2010 season. With only 13 races to go, it’s likely that the best he can hope for is gaining the 266 points he needs to take a 23rd-overall finish.
"Red Bull have shown they can do it in the past, and I feel like we will be able to do it next year." –Kasey Kahne
With Kasey Kahne announced last week as a driver in 2011 and regular No. 83 driver Brian Vickers looking to make his return to the cockpit next season after his treatment for blood clots is complete, the pressure is on Speed to perform.
Perhaps more positive news for the team coming out of Michigan was that Kahne celebrated the announcement of his one-year deal with the team by starting from pole.
He also outlined a simple goal for his one-year stint at Red Bull in 2011: “I want to win races and run competitively and make The Chase.”
Before the race in Michigan, his team owner for 2012, Rick Hendrick, explained the decision to put Kasey Kahne in a Red Bull car for 2011 by saying that the outfit is top-notch and he didn’t have to worry about sponsorship issues.
And, Kahne added, there’s the fact that the No. 83 team made the Chase for the Cup in 2009 and he sees no reason why they can’t get there again.
“Red Bull have shown they can do it in the past, and I feel like we will be able to do it next year,” he said.
“I want to enjoy myself, look forward to coming to the racetrack and be competitive. There are a lot of things that come along with racing for those guys that will make it fun and enjoyable, and I am looking forward to it all.”