Kasey Kahne delivered the Red Bull Racing’s second Sprint Cup win in Phoenix, Arizona, USA, recording his 12th career Cup victory in the Kobalt Tools 500 on Sunday.
With two races left in Red Bull’s NASCAR experiment and uncertainty facing the team when the season closes next week in Miami, it would have been easy for the guys to play out the string and go home.
Instead, the No. 4 crew and Kasey Kahne delivered Red Bull’s second Sprint Cup win in Phoenix, recording his 12th career Cup victory in the Kobalt Tools 500.
“It’s been a long time coming. This whole Red Bull team has done an unbelievable job to keep working hard. [No. 4 crew chief] Kenny Francis keeps on it — everybody at Red Bull, the car, the Toyota engine. These guys haven't given up in the last three months,” Kahne said.
“I want to also say this to my grandma. We lost my great grandpa last week and it's for her and my mom. It feels good to win for sure. He was a huge fan.”
A perfectly timed late pitstop put Kahne in a position to take the lead with 14 laps to go and hold off the championship favourites Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart, who finished second and third respectively.
'This whole Red Bull team has done an unbelievable job. These guys haven't given up' – Kasey Kahne
Red Bull announced earlier this year that it would exit the sport as an owner at the end of 2011. Kahne, meanwhile, moves to the powerful Hendrick operation next season.
But there’s nothing like leaving on a high. Kahne’s 331 points since the Chase began is third only to the two front runners who have scored 356 in the first nine races.
And now he’s scored the team’s second victory since joining the stock car series.
“This win means a lot: Some of these guys haven't won before and it felt like I haven't won,” he said.
“It feels really good to get Red Bull in victory lane – I just wanted to win for them really bad before the switch. Man, they've been a big part of NASCAR. I hope in some way they are still a big part of NASCAR because I know everyone really enjoys them being here.”
The team won previously when Brian Vickers taking the chequered flag in Michigan in 2009, but Victory Lane has eluded the team since. While the team seemed to be finding its stride in 2009, it lost Vickers to a blood clot disorder last year which kept him out of the car for most of 2010.
Vickers crossed the line 23rd in Phoenix after wrecking Matt Kenseth at about the halfway point in the race. That makes them even now after they tangled two weeks ago in Martinsville, with Vickers on the receiving end.
But make no mistake, even though the sister car didn't take the glory, this was a win for both crews and drivers.
“I'm not sure how Brian (Vickers) and those guys go at it, but he's been a great team-mate. [No. 83 crew chief] Ryan Pemberton has been great to work with,” Kahne said.
“They were both in victory lane after the race congratulating us. They're right there in all of our debriefs and things. It's been a lot of fun working with those guys. Like I said, I was excited to go to Red Bull this year, to be able to have fun and have a good teammate and work with a lot of good people over there. It's been cool. It's been a lot of fun.”
- Brian Vickers' profile on redbull.com
- More motor sports from redbull.com
- Kasey Kahne's profile on redbull.com
- Read Brian Vickers' latest blog