Only five races into the Kasey Kahne-Brian Vickers tandem, the two drivers combined to earn one of the best finishes in Red Bull Racing Team history.
Vickers’ No. 83 Red Bull Toyota finished eighth and Kahne’s No. 4 ninth in Sunday’s 400-miler at Auto Club Speedway — yes, it was 400 miles — to match the third-best finish in team history. It tied the total of 17 when the No. 83 finished seventh and No. 82 10th in March 2010 at Atlanta.
The best combined finish? The No. 83 in eighth and No. 82 in fifth in April 2009 at Talladaga. Second best? The No. 83 in second and No. 84 in 12th in June 2008 at Pocono. But Vickers said all signs point to those numbers being re-established sometime soon.
“Kasey and I have been working great together. The teams have been working well together,” Vickers said. “We’ve had two good cars week in and week out. We just haven’t had the luck to go with it. We had a good run and he’s had a problem, or vice-versa. It’s good for both of us be up front racing competitively.”
Indeed, the “problem” for Vickers this season has been luck, or the lack of it. He has been caught up in three incidents not of his doing, giving him finishes of 31st, 30th and 36th. His other two finishes, including Sunday, have been top 10s.The No. 83 started 19th, and no one passed more top-15 cars under green than Vickers. That meant Vickers was up front all day, with the third-highest average running position (6.375).
“We wanted to win, but I think everyone is pretty happy,” said Vickers, who has seven top 12s in the past eight Fontana races — all in the No. 83. “The way our luck has been, to be honest with you, we had a good car all day and we were competitive all day. The guys did a great job. This is just what the Red Bull crew needed — a good, solid day.”
Kahne’s day was the opposite. He spent the first three-quarters of the race, as he put it, bouncing and plowing, but “we kept working on it. The team did a good job with pit stops. We came back to the top 10, but it was a tough race. The car wouldn’t turn. It wouldn’t turn for the first 150 laps and then we made some air-pressure adjustments that our teammate … the 83 worked pretty good with that. We kind of followed them and had good pit stops. We had good pit calls, made the car a lot better.”
The two top 10s meant a good points day. Kahne, after finishing ninth for the second consecutive week, climbed into a tie for ninth. Vickers gained seven spots to 24th, but is still 14 points out of 20th.
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