Four hundred laps. Six hundred miles. Green flag in the day. Checkered flag at night. Indeed, NASCAR’s longest race is a true test of man and machine. Our drivers, crews and everyone in between are chomping at the bit to earn a victory Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. After further review, however, we’ve discovered that the we-get-to-sleep-in-our-own-beds description of the May Charlotte race weeks is inaccurate. The beds are ours, but really, how much does the industry sleep considering qualifying and the race end past 10?
4 . KASEY KAHNE
SUCCESS AT CMS: Kasey Kahne will make Sprint Cup start No. 15 on Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. In the previous 14, he has three wins — two of which came back-to-back in the spring and fall of 2006. Laced within those 14 starts are five top fives and 683 laps led. Kahne has five career victories at Charlotte — he’s won NASCAR’s longest race twice (in 2006 and ’08), the All-Star Race in 2008, the fall 500 in 2006 and a Nationwide Series event in May 2007.
BURN, BABY, BURN: Driver No. 4 won the fourth-annual Burnout Challenge held on the frontstretch of prior to Saturday’s All-Star Race. Kahne claimed the $10,000 prize, which he donated to the Kasey Kahne Foundation.
VITAL SIGNS: Kahne dropped three spots in the driver standings to 18th after Dover. He’s 42 points out of 10th.
PICTURE THIS I: Kahne and Vickers’ cars don a different paint scheme this weekend. Fans from all over have submitted photos to take a ride with Red Bull in the 600-mile event. “It says a lot that Red Bull values their fans, and what they mean to the sport, to have them participate in this paint scheme,” Kahne said.
83 . BRIAN VICKERS
MR. MO-MENTUM: The No. 83 team hopes to keep riding the momentum they gained in its first top-five finish of the season May 15 at Dover International Raceway. In last weekend’s Sprint Showdown, Vickers started and finished 10th in the short 40-lap race.
FAST AT CHARLOTTE: Vickers has a love/hate relationship with Charlotte. He has always been fast at the 1.5-mile oval. With 332 laps led, two top-five and three top-10 finishes, he has knocked at the door time and time again for the elusive “W” but has encountered some bad luck along the way in the form of three DNFs — and even a loose wheel that bounced onto an unsuspecting infield motorhome in 2008. “We still haven’t won a race there, but we have come very close,” said Vickers, who hails from nearby Thomasville, N.C. “It’s pretty frustrating because I love racing at Charlotte and I want to win there pretty bad. The track really suits my driving style.”
VITAL SIGNS: After picking up two positions after Dover, Vickers sits 27th in the driver standings — still 43 points out of the 20th.
PICTURE THIS II: “Red Bull had a great idea to get fans involved in the sport — put them on the cars,” Vickers said. “It’s awesome how many people have submitted photos for mine and Kasey’s cars. Everyone seems very excited to see the finished product.”
Follow Red Bull Racing Team on Twitter: @RedBullNASCAR.