The 2010 Daytona 500 is in the books and I’m I’m still all pumped about what took place yesterday in our No. 38 Mahindra Tractors USA Ford even a day after it all happened.
The one thing I am very happy about is that I got to take part in my first Daytona 500. As a kid, you dream about moments like this when you’re running Legends cars and Late Models.
I can’t thank the people at Front Row Motorsports, Mahindra Tractors USA and everyone involved in this for making it happen.
Our plan for the race was to stay out of the way, not make any mistakes and just be in the right position towards the end of the race. For the early part, I just kind of laid back and let them race up ahead.
Just before the first red flag for the chunks of the track coming up, the car was starting to get tight on entry and exit. Then, we had that first delay and we got out of the cars so they could fix the track. I was in the mood for ice cream at this time.
I was able to talk to some of the other drivers about what was going on with their cars and what they thought. We made a slight air pressure and ½ rounds of track bar adjustments during the race.
That seemed to help as we kept racing around. I still wasn’t going to get up front and get caught up in stuff. I had a few wrecks happen right in front of me that caused me to sit up pretty straight in the seat.
Then, we had that second red flag to fix the hole – again – and I ended up grabbing a big ol’ Speedway Dog from the concession stand. So much for the ice cream, but I was pretty darn hungry.
For the second restart, we pitted early and at one point (lap 165) I was actually scored second on the pylon. Heck, I saw that and asked someone to take a photo of it while it lasted.
We went back to racing and now the car was tight in the entry, middle and exit of the turns. When I would try to turn, the car wouldn’t take the steering I was putting into it, so I had to adjust my line a little to make it work.
We got the chance to pit again and my crew chief (Randy Seals) was able to make a track bar and air pressure adjustment. That helped us for the rest of the race. I was ready to rock n roll out there and start making some moves.
I went from 33rd to 31st in one lap, then up to 29th when a caution came out on lap 193. Michael Waltrip told me during the second red flag that he felt like we still had another big wreck to get through. He was right.
For the lap 198 restart, I was 25th and they told me to be smart. I told them I didn’t know if I had to be smart or crazy for the rest of the race to make some moves. I chose crazy and was up to 23rd when the lap 200 caution waved.
I restarted there and just as I was moving up some more, the 24, 9 and 19 all got to bumping with the 9 spinning down the apron. Unfortunately, that’s where I dove to get out of the way and the right front got into the side of him.
The No. 38 Mahindra Tractors USA Ford ended its day on the backstretch grass done for the day. I was okay, so that’s a good thing. When I got out of the car, I stood up on the window edge and pumped my arms in the air for the backstretch crowd.
Heck, I was pumped up and wanted to share it with the fans. They endured two red flags, so I figured the least I could do was give them some entertainment.
So, we ended up 31st in my first Daytona 500. It wasn’t the way I wanted, but it’s Daytona. I can’t wait until my next plate race in that Cup car.
Thanks to all of you for following along this week and allowing me to share my first Daytona 500 Speedweeks with you. Talk to you soon.
Robert Richardson, Jr., No. 38 Mahindra USA Tractors Ford Team
Starting Position: 37
Finishing Position: 31
Notes: Robert Richardson Jr. and the No. 38 Mahindra USA Tractors Ford team were having a strong run before it was spoiled at the end of a marathon day in Daytona. Richardson Jr., who had started 37th, had been conservative for the majority of the race. He was waiting to make his move for a top-20 finish when the race took the unexpected turn of several delays to repair the track surface.
During the delay the sun came down and made the handling of the No. 38 Mahindra Ford "tight." The condition kept Richardson Jr. from moving to the lead pack, but he was smart by positioning the car for a push at the end. Unfortunately the opportunity never came as Richardson Jr. was caught up in an accident during NASCAR's "overtime" period on Lap 203. He was hit from a spinning Kasey Kahne, who came down off the track after hitting the wall. Richardson Jr. finished 31st.
Comments from Mahindra USA Tractors Racing Team Driver Robert Richardson Jr. after the Daytona 500:
"It was time to go there at the end and that's what we were trying to do. You get stacked up on the green-white-checkered finish and there is nowhere to go. I went low and Gordon's car just came down. It was quick and there was nothing anyone could do.
"It's unfortunate because we had hung in all day. We were there and getting ready to get a good run, but we just didn't get the chance. It was great to be a part of the Daytona 500 and I'm thankful for everything Front Row Motorsports with Yates Racing did and Mahindra USA Tractors for making this dream come true."
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