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Kahne puts Red Bull into victory lane

On a day that saw the F1 Red Bull Racing team in a rare funk, Kasey Kahne put their NASCAR equivalents into victory lane in the team's penultimate Sprint Cup outing.
"It feels so good. Been a long time coming," said Kasey Kahne after finding victory lane for the first time with Red Bull Racing - and most likely the last, as the team is being wound up at the end of the season as the drinks company pulls its financial support. But as leaving presents go, a parting gift of victory at Phoenix is as good as it gets for any driver and team.

"These guys have done an unbelievable job," said Kahne, taking the opportunity to talk up the work of the Red Bull mechanics one last time. "It feels really good to get Red Bull in victory lane - I just wanted to win for them really bad."

Going into the race, drivers were concerned about the new paving and configuration at Phoenix International Raceway that suggested that moving outside of a single rubbered-in groove down low would be all-but impossible, which would appear make overtaking a distant dream. It didn't help that it had been raining overnight and into the morning, washing away what little grip the track had built up over the preceding days of practice and qualifying - not that the weather had discouraged a sell-out crowd of 85,000 for the last-race-but-one of the season.

And the start didn't bode well. After veteran race driver Adrian Fernandez waved the green flag to get proceedings under way, there was an immediate yellow when David Ragan and Regan Smith tangled and hit the wall. The second restart was little better with Geoffrey Bodine spinning on the frontstretch. It looked like it was going to be a very long afternoon indeed for all concerned.

Fortunately the initial signs were misleading, and the next green flag stint lasted all the way to the scheduled competition caution (planned because of the rain) on lap 40. Polesitter Matt Kenseth had led for almost all of that period.

But Tony Stewart made his intentions clear with aggressive moves at the restarts and was on a mission to get to the front as soon as possible. He made it on lap 35, and while Kenseth beat him off pit road after the competition caution pit stops to take the lead again, Stewart was quickly back in front again and then led for more than a hundred laps with only a brief break for pit stops under the fourth caution of the day (and the second caused by a Bodine spin) on lap 94.

Carl Edwards was less assertive in the early stages, and was fretting with the car's handling which was proving too tight for comfort in turns 3 and 4. But the #99 team has been in this position before, and their trademark strength has been the slow, steady incremental changes dialled in by crew chief Bob Osborne as the race progresses, and Phoenix was to prove no different. He settled into third place for much of Stewart's century up front and bided his time, using it to study what his rival was up to.

"That is exactly what I was doing, just hanging out back there trying to keep his blood pressure up!" he said later. "I was watching what Tony was doing and searching around and doing what I could."

It proved a wise strategy. After the next caution on lap 159 (caused by - guess who? - yes, Geoff Bodine spinning once more) Edwards took advantage of Matt Kenseth going wide and slotted into the lead in his own right for the first time in the afternoon, which he kept through the sixth caution and restart of the day caused when Cole Whitt got helped into a spin in his Cup series d├ębut by contact with Martin Truex Jr.

by Andrew Lewin



Related Pictures

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Tony Stewart leads fellow Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards during the Kobalt Tools 500 on Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Ariz. [Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images]
The #4 Red Bull Racing Team celebrates after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt Tools 500 on Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Ariz. [Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Kasey Kahne celebrates winning the 24th Annual Kobalt Tools 500, his 12th victory in 287 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. Last win was Sept. 6, 2009 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. This breaks an 81-race winless streak. [Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, and team owner Tony Stewart celebrate winning in Victory Lane after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 GameStop/Rock Candy Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 GameStop/Rock Candy Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 GameStop/Rock Candy Toyota, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 GameStop/Rock Candy Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #22 Hertz Ford, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for pole position for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 15, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Brian France, NASCAR President (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Jeld-Wen/Menards Toyota, and Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, burn out as Crafton celebrates winning the series championship and Wallace celebrates winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Jeld-Wen/Menards Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship in Victory Lane with the trophy, NASCAR President Mike Helton and sportscaster Krista Voda during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Jeld-Wen/Menards Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship in Victory Lane after the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Jeld-Wen/Menards Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the series championship and placing ninth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #51 ToyotaCare Toyota, pits during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Jeld-Wen/Menards Toyota, and his daughter Elladee take part in pre-race ceremonies for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, who is not in the Championship Four final phase of the Chase, qualified for 2nd position Friday, November 14, 2014 for Sunday`s final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. He will be joined on the front row by Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS who won the Pole position. Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS, who is not in the Championship Four final phase of the Chase, won the pole position Friday, November 14, 2014 for Sunday`s final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. He will be joined by Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS on the front row. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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T - Unregistered

November 14, 2011 10:52 PM

Hope Tony pulls it off -4 wins from 9 races versus none for 'Cousin' Carl. Says a lot about Nascars scoring system... Kenseth Vs Vickers - Most drivers thought it was retaliation, Vickers counter claimed Kenseth brake tested him and Nascar ignored the clash completely ! No wonder kyle Busch fans where protesting outside Nascars HQ



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