Shame on you if you forget mom on this Mother’s Day (and for you men, that’s the day after Saturday night’s Showtime Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway). At least our drivers have that part of the weekend covered, as Brian Vickers will make the pre-race stroll with mother Ramona at his side, and Kasey Kahne will do the same with his mom, Tammy. After that, they’ll have to wine and dine the Lady in Black under the lights, which often proves to be a bigger chore that scoring flowers and chocolates at the last minute.
4 . KASEY KAHNE
PAINTING THE TOWN BLUE: Put it this way, Kasey Kahne’s No. 4 Red Bull Toyota was well-to-do Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway. He started fourth and pretty much stayed there the entire night — 400 laps, 300 miles. Kahne narrowly evaded a major accident at the three-quarter pole, just sneaking past the spinning No. 24 of Jeff Gordon along the backstretch. He went on to finish third for his sixth top 10 in 15 Richmond races.
NO MISTAKES: Why not let the three-time pole winner and two-time top-fiver speak for himself regarding his encounters with the Lady: “The biggest thing is just making sure you stay focused for all 500 miles. Just one little mistake — most guys run into the wall and still finish. You can still finish well and hit the wall, it’s just how many times you do it at that place. When it’s really sunny and the sun is in your eyes going down the backstretch … it’s just so easy to make a mistake when you’re battling other cars and your tires are getting slippery. You’re still going fast, it’s still a fast track. To me, it’s just staying focused and not making those mistakes.”
VITAL SIGNS: Kahne remained 18th in the driver standings. He’s 13 points out of the top 15 and 39 out of the top 10.
SCORCHING THE SANDHILLS: In the past six races at Darlington Raceway, Kahne has turned 103 fastest laps — that ranks fifth. He’s also led 147 laps — that ranks sixth. … At Richmond, Kahne’s No. 4 stayed in the top 15 99 percent of the time — 396 of 400 laps.
83 . BRIAN VICKERS
MOVIN’ ON UP I: The driver on the move Saturday night at Richmond was Brian Vickers, whose No. 83 Red Bull Toyota went from 37th to seventh in 119 laps — mostly under green, and on a short track. It was quite the feat, and Vickers held that spot (or thereabouts) for the remainder of the race. He, like his teammate, avoided the big wreck on lap 301 and went on to finish 10th. It was his third top 10 in the nine races this season, and he’s endured four wrecks that had nothing to do with him.
LOVE AFFAIR WITH THE LADY: It’s no secret. The 1.366-mile, egg-shaped Darlington Raceway is Brian Vickers’ favorite track on the circuit. He’s started in the top eight three times, with a best finish of 10th last season, which just so happened to be his final race before vacating the No. 83 because of blood clots. “Darlington is challenging, difficult, hard, weird. It’s a one-groove race track at 170 miles per hour and you can run right against the wall … what else can you say? You really have to be patient and race the track. That’s something I’ve always enjoyed. I really like the old track (pre-repaving), but even the new track has all of it’s own new challenges.”
VITAL SIGNS: The top 10 at Richmond moved Vickers up two spots in the standings to 26th. He’s 25 points out of 20th.
MOVIN’ ON UP II: Vickers, with the help of a hard-working crew, has picked up seven positions in points since his wreck at Phoenix. … The No. 83 made the second-most green-flag passes at Richmond with 78.
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