The Bluever Bullet
Two Red Bull Toyotas became one Saturday night. One was blue, the other silver. Together, they put on an impressive display of speed and communication.
Restrictor-plate racing at Daytona International Speedway has evolved from one giant pack in about 20 little ones. Perhaps the most dominant two-car pack carried Red Bull Racing Team’s Kasey Kahne and Brian Vickers.
From the very start of the Fourth of July weekend classic, Kahne and Vickers hooked up and rocketed right to the front. Kahne led eight times for 19 laps, and while the stat sheet doesn’t show it, Vickers was right there with him in his No. 83 Red Bull Toyota, pushing, guiding and navigating Kahne’s No. 4 around the 2.5- mile, high-banked superspeedway. The in-car communication between the two was flawless and highly entertaining — similar to the banter between Maverick and Goose.
A small sampling:
- “Wanna march to the front or kinda chill for a while?” Vickers asked Kahne early in the race.
- “I’m in trouble,” Kahne said, noting he was alone in the lead. “Don’t worry,” Vickers ensured. “I’ll be coming up in the middle.”
- “The 18 (Kyle Busch) just hit us in the tri-oval,” Vickers said, “but I’m sure that’s no surprise to ya.”
- “That was a nice save in (turn) three by the way,” Vickers told Kahne. “Thanks,” Kahne replied.
But like many partnerships, there’s separation. And at the end of a wild night, Kahne and Vickers lost each other.
Kahne went on to finish fourth for his sixth top 10 at Daytona. Vickers ended up 12th.
“It was a really good night for our whole Red Bull team,” Kahne said. “All of the guys did a nice job, and mine and Brian’s cars worked really well together. We were hooked up the whole night together and worked well — led some laps. I lost him, just really was never able to get hooked up again with him, which was disappointing because I thought we had a couple really good Red Bull Toyotas working together.”
Back to the separation. In the closing laps and with the Red Bulls nose to tail, Joey Logano’s No. 20 turned Mark Martin’s No. 5, which came down and nailed Vickers’ car to bring out the fifth of six cautions. Vickers, however, somehow kept it straight and continued on.
Out of contention for the victory, Vickers roared back through the field as 10 laps of overtime were added.
“We ran well all night with Kasey,” Vickers said. “It was great running up front and showing what we are capable of — it was great teamwork from everyone. I hate we were caught up at the end but plowed through the mess to finish 12th. Finishing 1-2 was the plan, though.”
Kahne, without his primary partner, was left to draft with Logano, who had also lost his pusher/pushee in a previous incident. The 20-4 tandem ended up second the 6-17 duo at the end of a second green-white-checkered finish.
“I still got to push Joey — another Toyota — and it worked out pretty good for us,” Kahne said. “Just try to get hooked up as fast as you can and go. To me, it’s tough because it takes a lap or two to get hooked up and get momentum and get going. And that’s what kind of happened there at the end is from fifth on back got slowed up and we were just all in line coming to the line. Usually there would be a pack and a big burst and everybody would be going for it, but it didn’t happen that way.”
Kahne was one of a track record 25 different leaders, and he remained 19th in the driver standings — 46 points out of 10th. Vickers moved up to 25th, but still has 51 points to make up to crack the top 20.