‘WE TOOK A KNIFE TO A GUN FIGHT’
CONCORD, N.C. — No. 4 crew chief Kenny Francis summed up Saturday night’s All-Star Race in one short, but amazingly accurate, sentence: “It looks like we took a knife to a gun fight.”
Running third midway through the second segment, Kahne slapped the wall in turn one to bring out the event’s first on-track yellow flag. Greg Biffle’s No. 16 was all over the rear bumper of Kahne’s No. 4 Red Bull Toyota, and Kahne thought he may have had right-rear tire trouble. Either way, Kahne noted over the radio, “I lost all grip.”
His car wiggled to the left and then shot up the track into the wall. The right-side damage to the No. 4 was significant enough that team threw on two tires just to get the garage on lap 61, where it stayed. Kahne finished 21st in his eighth All-Star appearance.
“I just kind of entered the corner like normal and just had zero grip when I entered,” said Kahne, the winner of the 2008 All-Star Race. “I don’t know if Biffle touched the back of me or if I got a flat or what it was, but it had zero grip — it was gone. Then they said that Biffle was really close. I don’t know if that had something to do with it. We were maybe a top-five car, but we didn’t have nearly enough speed — straightaway speed. We got through the corner pretty good, but we had zero straightaway speed to keep up with those guys up front.”
Earlier Saturday night, in the Sprint Showdown qualifier, Brian Vickers and the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota team had the usual go-for-broke attitude that comes with All-Star weekend.
After starting 10th and staying there for the first 20-lap segment, Vickers pitted for four tires at halftime. He restarted 15th for the final 20 laps and quickly climbed back to 10th. But on a restart with 13 laps to go, Vickers stuffed the No. 83 to the inside of Jeff Burton, who robbed all real estate as a gaggle of cars scrambled for position.
Vickers got the worst of the contact and went spinning. He corrected the car and pointed it straight to the pits. Four more tires allowed him to finish where he started.
“The 31 came down on us, and we just had nowhere to go,” Vickers said. “I hate it, but we definitely learned something we can use next week in the 600. We have a foundation to build on.”