HAMPTON, Ga. — Red Bull Racing Team entered Atlanta Motor Speedway at 7 p.m. Thursday. It left five days later without the finish that Kasey Kahne needed or Brian Vickers wanted.
Tropical Storm Lee soaked the Southeast and pushed the AdvoCare 500, originally scheduled for Sunday night, to Tuesday morning. Before that, on Saturday, Kahne won his second pole of the season, third with Red Bull Racing Team, third at Atlanta and 22nd of his career.
The finish, however, didn’t match the start.
The driver of the No. 4 Red Bull Toyota made contact with another car on a restart on lap 134. Translation: a lengthy stay in the garage for front-end repairs and a 34th-place finish. The pole-sitter led 15 laps early, but the car wasn’t quite up to snuff as the team tried a myriad of adjustments — air pressure, packers in, packers out, track bar, tires and fuel.
Thirty-fourth dropped Kahne and the No. 4 team to eighth in the Chase wild card standings. Still mathematically alive, Kahne simply needs a victory Saturday night at Richmond — and a ton of help.
“Atlanta was a tough day all around for the Red Bull team,” Kahne said. “It seemed like nothing went right for us and then we got caught up in some bad luck on a restart which ended any chances of a decent finish for us.”
Brian Vickers, after starting fourth, pulled out an 11th-place finish despite dropping out of the top 20 after the 100-lap mark. Vickers restarted 20th on lap 247 and crept along for track position until he moved into the top 10 before finishing 11th.
It was Vickers’ sixth top-15 finish in his past seven races at Atlanta.
“After battling a tight condition most of the race, we got a little loose at the very end,” Vickers said. “I guess we got greedy with the track bar adjustments. Great calls all day. We could have had a better day with more track position. All in all, it was a step in the right direction.”