Maybe, just maybe, Tuesday’s earthquake was powerful enough to shake up NASCAR’s wild card standings. Kasey Kahne needs all the help he can get, starting with another Shake at Bristol (i.e., a much-needed victory), a Rattle in the points and a Roll into Chase contention.
4 . KASEY KAHNE
LIFE SUPPORT: Kasey Kahne finished seventh in Sunday’s Pure Michigan 400 and gained two positions in the driver standings to 17th, but he ranks ninth in the race to one of two Chase wild card berths. With three events remaining before the Chase begins Sept. 18 at Chicago, wins mean everything for Red Bull Racing’s No. 4 team. Kahne so far has met one requirement — he’s a top-20 driver — but has no victories to fall back on.
BACK AND FORTH: For every top five at Bristol, Kahne has a finish of 40th or worse — pretty standard stats for that track. In 15 starts, Kahne’s crashed out three times before reaching halfway. But he’s countered with three top fives and six top 10s. His best showing came in August 2007 when he started from the pole, led 305 of 500 laps and finished second. In his lone Bristol start in the No. 4 Red Bull Toyota, Kahne started 10th in March and finished one spot better, crediting his pit crew for keeping him in the top 15 for all but one of 500 laps.
CONCRETE KEY: “It is really important to qualify up front. There are so many cars on the track and you can really get mixed up in all that traffic. It’s not easy to pass there, so it’s better to get up front and stay up front. In the race, you need a car that handles good and can run wide open.” — Kahne on Bristol.
VITAL SIGNS: See above.
83 . BRIAN VICKERS
15TH, NOT 16TH: After starting 26th, Brian Vickers finished 15th Sunday at Michigan as the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota team tried everything to combat the loose-in-tight-off condition. On the final stop the team threw one last adjustment at the car, Vickers restarted 22nd and gained six spots in a green-white-checkered finish. A former winner at Michigan, Vickers earned his 11th top 20 in 14 starts there.
WHALE OF A SHARK: Vickers’ bucket list is getting thin. Driver No. 83 swam with whale sharks and other marine life Thursday at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. The dive occurred at the world’s largest aquatic habitat, Ocean Voyager. The exhibit holds 6.3 million gallons of water and is home to four whale sharks, four manta rays, dozens of sharks and thousands of other unique aquatic species.
ROMAN COLISEUM: Vickers produces what a lot of drivers haven’t at .533-mile Bristol. He finishes races, having only one DNF in 13 starts to go along with completing 95.5 percent of the laps. In March, the No. 83 got sucked up in an accident on lap 28. It was the typical nowhere-to-go scenario at Bristol, and the team was forced to the garage for repairs. Vickers finished 54 laps down in 31st.
VITAL SIGNS: Vickers remains 28th in points.
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