After being a contender throughout the last few months and staying consistently in the top ten; Kasey Kahne and Red Bull Racing’s #4 Toyota finally made it to victory lane.
Not only did Kahne nab his first win in a 81 career long winless streak at Phoenix; but he also dedicated his win to his grandmother and mother as they lost his great grandfather last week. This was by far one of the most touching victory lanes I have experienced since Trevor Bayne’s Daytona 500 win back in February. Kahne also said if it wouldn’t be for the hard work from crew chief, Kenny Francis, none of what they have accomplished would have came true.
“It’s probably the biggest win ever for me personally,” said Kenny Francis on top of the Red Bull pit box while Kahne spun donuts on the front stretch. “It’s unbelievable, as hard as the guys have worked all year; it’s just superb to win.”
Kahne led only 14 laps all day, the last 14 laps in his victory.
“It feels great to get a win for Red Bull and get a win in the 4 car,” Kahne said “It’s something new for both of us to come over and have a one-year deal.”
Kahne is only at Red Bull racing for one more race, before he will travel over to Hendrick Motorsports for the 2012 season and beyond. In June, it was announced that Red Bull racing was leaving the sport, leaving everyone involved with Red Bull racing with in question about next year. The team has not won since Brian Vickers won a fuel mileage race at Michigan in 2009.
“Well, we’re lucky that everybody kept working hard and has stayed after it, preparing great racecars,” Kahne said. “We’re bringing awesome cars to the track.”
But the Championship Chase has came down to a two-man duel between Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart after the two finished 2nd and 3rd behind Kahne. Only 3 points separate the drivers dueling it out for that elusive championship.
“It’s neat to be able to go to Homestead and race it out,” said Edwards about next week’s season ending race. “Tony was really fast we got our car tuned in and we were able to get up there and race with him and compete. Just a good hard fought day.”
This is the third closest point’s race in NASCAR history, but Stewart isn’t focusing on that. “I’m just thinking of the three points,” Stewart said after the race. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s a dead heat going in there [to Homestead]. We just got to do our job like we’ve been doing. To have three top-three finishes in the last three weeks, pretty proud of that.”
For much of the day, Stewart didn’t battle Edwards; it was another Roush-Fenway driver, Matt Kenseth who was able to run down Stewart early in the race. However, on lap 178, Matt Kenseth’s day, which had been plagued by brake problems, came to an end when he and Brian Vickers were caught up in a wreck.
Kurt Busch led late in the race after the eighth and final caution, but his lead evaporated along with his fuel supply and Edwards was able to take the lead. The final 33 laps were all strategy on when to pit for fuel.
Next week the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will race for the final time in 2011 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Only two drivers, Edwards and Stewart are eligible for the championship. Who will leave the beach with the championship?