Good thing for Kasey Kahne that the Race to the Chase suits Red Bull Racing Team just fine. Michigan is next (the site of our first Sprint Cup victory). After that, it’s Bristol (just keep the fenders intact and hope for the best). After that, it’s Atlanta (we’ve been known to run well at the mile-and-a-halfs). And race No. 26 is Richmond (we locked ourselves into the Chase there in 2009). It’s go-time.
4 . KASEY KAHNE
CRUNCH TIME: Kasey Kahne and the No. 4 Red Bull Toyota lost three positions in the points standings after a 26th-place finish in Monday’s rain-delayed race at Watkins Glen International. Rules say a driver and his team must be in the top 20 to even be eligible for a Chase berth, and then from there wins and wildcards equal everything. Kahne sits 19th in the standings and doesn’t have a win — yet — with four events remaining before the Chase begins Sept. 18 at Chicagoland Speedway.
IRISH HILLS WEREN’T SMILING: A month or so ago at Michigan, Kahne entered pit road while running in the top five around lap 150. Problem was, the No. 4 was out of gas, which makes it difficult for a car to re-fire. It was an agonizingly long wait as competitors zoomed past under green. Once the car came to life and Kahne returned to the race, he was two laps down and outside the top 30. He finished 28th. Despite the dismal showing, Kahne later wrote on his Twitter page: “RED BULL 4 was awesome today!” Indeed it was, as Kahne qualified eighth, ran in the top 15 for nearly 70 percent of the race and had the eighth-fastest car under green. And only four drivers passed more top-15 cars under green.
ROOM TO MOVE: “I feel like that is one of the tracks where it is really critical to have a good aero and engine package. The racing at Michigan can be great at times. It also can be a race where cars run away and there’s not a lot of passing going on. As far as the width of the race track and racing groove, there’s plenty of room. If you have a good car, you’ll be able to pass and it will be a fun race.” — Kahne.
83 . BRIAN VICKERS
GITTY UP AT THE GLEN: Brian Vickers was scored in 18th Monday, this after an overtime of two laps that saw cars flipping and hitting hard. It was a wild finish to NASCAR’s second and final road-course race. Just before David Ragan T-boned a guard rail, David Reutimann tumbled and Boris went after The Biff, Vickers pitted for four tires and fuel three laps from the finish. “Wish we had better track position, but we have tires,” crew chief Ryan Pemberton noted. “Give them hell.” Vickers restarted 25th and improved seven spots at the stripe.
HOME TRACK: It’s no secret that Vickers loves Michigan International Speedway. He has driven the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota to a top-10 finish in the last six races at the 2-mile, D-shaped oval. After missing both races in 2010 when he was out of the car for medical reasons, Vickers picked up right where he left off this season with a 10th-place finish back in June. Among his other highlights are one win (August 2009) — which was also Red Bull Racing Team’s first win in NASCAR’s top division — three poles, two top fives and eight top 10s.
‘NO MISTAKES’ ALLOWED: “Winning at one of my favorite tracks on the circuit was a very special moment for me, and even more so because it was Red Bull’s first win in the sport. It seems so long ago now. I think it’s not so much what went right, but that nothing went wrong. We made no mistakes as a team and had a consistent day. Leading up to that race, we had shown speed in the past, but we had always had some sort of failure that had prevented us from winning. It felt great to put together a full, error-free race and get the end result we had been wanting for so long. It was a great day.” — Vickers, on his victory at Michigan in August 2009.
60 . COLE WHITT
UNPRODUCTIVE AT POCONO: Cole Whitt and Turn One Racing’s No. 60 team misfired during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series’ most recent race Aug. 7 at Pocono Raceway. Whitt finished 15th. “We were behind from the beginning. Just struggling, never got the setup,” Whitt said. “We kind of raced with what we had and got it the best we could get it. We couldn’t get through the bumps in (turn) one and the tunnel turn. We just never really could get it. Never could get a good practice. Never got a good qualifying run. And that’s hard when some guys have their stuff dialed in. I’m glad it’s over. Just want to get out of here.”
VITAL SIGNS: Whitt sits fifth in the fight for the Truck Series championship — 40 points behind leader Johnny Sauter.
HIGH, WIDE, HANDSOME: “I don’t know much. It’s just a matter of getting out there and going after it. I’ve always loved the higher-speed tracks. That’s part of the game in NASCAR. There’s a variety of tracks, but I’ve always liked to run wide open and go after it. As for points, all we can do is go out and try to earn wins. There’s not much more we can do. Just race out butts off.” — Whitt.
Follow Red Bull Racing Team on Twitter: @RedBullNASCAR.