TALLADEGA, Ala. — Two-car packs carrying the No. 22 were Goliath. The two Red Bull Toyotas carrying Brian Vickers and Kasey Kahne were the Davids. One David took a beating; the other David got burned Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway.
After starting a season-best ninth, No. 83 driver Brian Vickers, for the fourth time in eight races, was collected in an accident that had nothing to do with him. In the early laps of the Aaron’s 499, Vickers and teammate Kasey Kahne had formed an all-Red Bull Toyota two-car pack — despite starting 22 positions apart — and that tandem was well on its way to front. “When I was with Brian before Brian got taken out, we were working pretty well together,” Kahne said. “We led laps, we were up front and everything was good and then we lost him.”
Enter the No. 22 of Kurt Busch, who on lap 28 shoved Landon Cassill’s No. 09 into Vickers’ Red Bull Toyota. Boom! The right side took a shot, broke loose, sliced back across the track and careened head-on into the outside wall along the backstretch. That was essentially it for Vickers, whose car lacked the aerodynamic shape that’s critical at NASCAR’s widest, longest and, arguably, fastest track. Hard work by the No. 83 crew got Vickers back out, but the effort proved to be futile. After the wreck, Vickers exited the track in 40th, returned in 40th, left again for a driveshaft change in 40th and rode out the remaining laps to finish 38th. He slipped two positions to 28th in the standings — 36 points out of 20th.
“I was riding around minding my own business and we just got hit in the door,” Vickers said. “It looked like Kurt got into the left rear and turned the 09, and we happened to be the unlucky victim. Again, we’ve had a really good car — ran up front, like we’ve had many times this year and we were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Enter the No. 22 of Busch again on lap 90. Busch’s car tagged his teammate’s car — the No. 2 of Brad Keselowski, who went spinning near turn three and collected the No. 6 of David Ragan. Ragan, of course, was a passenger and went up into the wall, down to the apron and up the track again. Smoke was everywhere. Behind that smoke was Kahne’s No. 4 Red Bull Toyota. Kahne bounced off the No. 6 and into the grass. He proceeded to roar through the infield with his tail on fire — literally. He was eventually forced to stop near the entrance of pit road, car on fire and thick, black smoke puffing everywhere.
In true Red Bull form, the No. 4 guys got cracking and got Kahne back out. And like Vickers, he rode out the remaining laps and ended up 37th. Kahne dropped two spots in the driver standings. He’s now 51 points out of 10th. “I actually didn’t really even get in that bad of a wreck. It was more the car just got some flames in the back,” Kahne said. “I sucked up a little bit of black smoke, but that was it. I stink, too.”
UP NEXT: Matthew and Daniel Hansen 400, Saturday, April 30, Richmond International Raceway, Richmond, Va.