Race Weekend Central

Kahne Gives Red Bull a Farewell Victory at Phoenix

Victory Lane at Phoenix Sunday was full of “bull.” Red Bull, that is, as Kasey Kahne, in his next-to-last race with the Red Bull Racing Team, picked up his 12th career win in the Kobalt Tools 500, but perhaps it was the most satisfying of the 31-year old Enumclaw, Washington driver’s Sprint Cup career. The win broke a long 81-race drought for Kahne, making it the fourth consecutive Phoenix race that has broken a lengthy dry spell.

“It feels so good,” an elated Kahne said post-race. “It’s been a long time coming. This whole Red Bull team has done an unbelievable job to keep working hard. Kenny Francis (crew chief) keeps on it — everybody at Red Bull, the car, the Toyota engine. It was a great run today. The guys did an awesome job. We fell back a little bit early and then came back and just kept getting it better. These guys haven’t given up in the last three months. It’s been really cool. It was really, really cool. It was slippery early, but as the tires built heat and got rubber on the track, the Goodyear tires came in pretty good. It ended up being a great race. I’m really excited.”

Tony Stewart said that he was coming into the last two races of the year with the mind-set of winning both events, and for much of the race Sunday, it appeared the Columbus, Indiana native was on his way to doing exactly that. “Smoke” led 160 of the 312 laps, but had to settle for third at the end of the day, behind current points leader Carl Edwards.

“We’ll just keep doing what we’re doing,” Stewart said post-race. “We have a third and two wins in the last three races so we’re going to keep the pressure on him (Carl Edwards) and we’ll make him sweat it out.”

The Columbia, Missouri points leader neither gained or lost ground on Stewart, taking a scant three point lead into the season finale at Homestead.
“We have never gone into Homestead with the points lead,” Edwards stated post-race. “You know they give a boat away if you win that thing. I saw that boat and I would like to go down there and win it. That would be fun to put a cap on this season. That is what our mission is. We feel we have the cars and pit crew and have shown that we can gut it out on these really tough days when maybe we don’t have the fastest car. This is going to be good.”

In the closing laps, Carl Edwards was leading going into the final pit stops, but after being too conservative on his pit road speed on his last stop, Kasey Kahne usurped the lead from him and would lead the rest of the way, winning the race by 0.802 seconds over the #99 Aflac Ford.

Jeff Burton and Ryan Newman rounded out the top-5. Sixth through tenth were A.J. Allmendinger, David Reutimann, Marcos Ambrose, Paul Menard, and Clint Bowyer.

“Montezuma’s Revenge” is a popular superstition for our friends south of the border, but it was “Martinsville’s Revenge” that caught up with pole-sitter Matt Kenseth as Brian Vickers deliberately ran over the Cambridge, Wisconsin native, basically ending Kenseth’s day after the No. 17 Crown Royal Ford ran up toward the front for much of the early first half of the race, even leading much of the early stages of the race.

Kevin Harvick would see his slim championship hopes basically vanish after having to make a mid-race unscheduled pit stop for a vibration under green-flag conditions. The pit-stop knocked Edwards back to a disappointing 19th-place finish.

Kyle Busch’s bad week only got worse during Sunday’s race. After M&M’s pulled their sponsorship for the remainder of the year and the team blew an engine in practice, Busch blew his second engine of the weekend at the two-thirds mark of the race. “It’s terrible to have one in a weekend, let alone two in a weekend,” said a dejected Busch post-race.

The average speed of the races was 112.918 mph and the race took 2 hours, 45 minutes, and 47 seconds. There were 14 lead changes among seven drivers and eight cautions for 30 laps with an attendance listed at 85,000 paying fans.

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