Brian Vickers' blue #83 Red Bull Toyota had Kurt Busch's paler blue deuce in its sights, slowly reeling in the leader as the two fought toward the scheduled finish of Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway - then came the untimely caution.
The eleventh yellow flag of the race waved with four laps remaining, halting Vickers' pursuit of Busch and setting up a green-white-chequered finish. A thin lead group of cars, all running on ageing rubber and low fuel, had no choice but to pit but, where Vickers peeled onto pit road in second, he peeled off again in sixth, and could only
pick up one position in the final two laps.
Although that still ensured Red Bull Racing of its first top five finish of the season, and Vickers his third consecutive top ten, all they could think about was what had been lost - a shot at a second Sprint Cup victory for the driver and a first with Red Bull.
''We would've finished first or second - or wrecked trying,'' Vickers insisted, ''We obviously had the better car there at the end. Kurt and I were running the same line, so it wasn't going to be easy to pass him - and he was driving his butt off as well.
Before the final stop, Vickers last pitted under caution on lap 262. He came in fourth, left in second and, five laps later, the #83 and a handful of other leaders stayed out when Scott Speed's sister #82 and the #6 Ford of David Ragan clashed to bring out the tenth yellow.
On the restart, Busch and Vickers pulled away to make it a two-car show, with the Red Bull machine at one point cutting Busch's lead to less than a second with 17 laps
to go as they used every inch along the outside wall.
''I'm really proud of the Red Bull guys - I had a great car all day,'' Vickers revealed, ''We always seemed to have one of the best cars - if not the
best car - at one point throughout a run, but I was really hoping it would stay green. It was going to be a great race to the finish with Kurt.''
Despite the disappointment, Vickers has gained 29 positions in points in the past three races and now sits eleventh overall entering the bye week before Bristol.