Chalk up Sunday as “one of them racin’ deals.” The Red Bull Toyotas had a too-close encounter in the Lenox Industrial Tools 301.
Red Bull Racing Team’s drivers are always instructed to race each other clean and practice give and take on the track, but it was two cars searching for the same line exiting turn four at New Hampshire Motor Speedway that led to Kasey Kahne’s blue left front clipping Brian Vickers’ silver right rear.
Kahne, out of room on the outside with Dave Blaney’s No. 36 already there, gently tagged Vickers’ No. 83 Red Bull Toyota on lap 225, but it was enough to send the team car for a scraping spin along the frontstretch wall. The racin’ deal sent Vickers to the garage, while Kahne’s No. 4 Red Bull Toyota carried on to finish sixth.
“It’s a teammate so I wouldn’t usually stay there with Brian because we race each other really clean,” Kahne said. “But it was Blaney, and he was going backwards because they were just a little bit off the pace, which is perfectly fine and they do a great job. He’s going to let me go as we’re going down the straightaway — I know that from racing with him all the time.
"I wish that wouldn’t have happened for sure, but I was there."
“Then it would have been two-wide for me and Brian back at the start-finish so I thought we would just stay there. Brian must not have known that I stayed there. He probably thought that I was going to back out. I wish that wouldn’t have happened for sure, but I was there.”
Vickers spent 18 laps in the garage, returned after the crew quickly executed its repair plan and finished 34th. It was a sour end to what had been a promising day. Through a series of two-, four- or no-tire strategies up and down pit road, Vickers charged from his 21st-place starting position into the top two by halfway.
“Kasey and I have always raced well together in the past as teammates, so I don’t think anything was intentional,” Vickers said. “Once again, we had a really good car. Just another case of wrong place at the same time.”
Kahne, too, retreated for repairs so the crew could yank out fenders near the tires. He restarted 32nd with 71 laps to go and slowly chipped away at the field as fuel strategies unfolded. Kahne drove into the top 10 shortly after the final restart and picked up a couple of cheap positions as other cars ran dry in the closing laps.
Prior to the incident, Kahne had been a fixture in the top 10 and led five laps.
“It was a tough race. This is a tough track,” Kahne said after his sixth top 10 in 15 starts at the flat, 1.058-mile oval. “The car was pretty good and at times it was really good. The last half of the race, it wasn’t really that good. I don’t know how we missed it. It was just loose off.”
With his seventh top 10 of the season, Kahne improved three positions in the driver standings to 14th. He’s 47 points behind 10th-place Ryan Newman, yet is still in need of a win or two to enter the Chase wild card conversation. Vickers remained 26th in the standings — 85 points out of 20th.
The Sprint Cup Series takes a rare weekend off before the July 31 Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Follow Red Bull Racing Team on Twitter: @RedBullNASCAR.
- By The Numbers: First Half of the Season.
- Traffic Inside and Out at Kentucky.
- Take a Tour of the 4 or 83.