CHINA GROVE, NC (February 28, 2010) – Robert Richardson, Jr. and the No. 23 Southern Pride Trucking Chevrolet were a far better team than their 26th-place result from Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
After struggling with an evil-handling car during the two practice sessions on Friday, the team knew their work was cut out for them from their 41st-place starting position. Richardson and team had 200 laps on the 1.5-mile oval of LVMS to be successful, after a 1:45 hour delay for rain and track drying.
Richardson was hoping for some Lady Lucky and the essence of Elvis to be on his side in Las Vegas. And, for the early going, that’s exactly what took place as the team utilized timely – and fast – pit stops to move up the running order.
Within the first 13 laps, the McKinney, Texas-native was already up 10 positions to 31st place. Several cautions slowed the pace of the race, but Richardson was up to 28th by lap 20 after using a caution pit stop to take only fuel and make a track bar adjustment.
Radioing in to the crew saying, “the car is better the longer we run” proved correct. By pitting earlier for fuel, a long green-flag run forced other teams to make pit stops beginning on lap 55. This allowed Richardson to move into the top-20 by lap 68 and then top-15 by lap 75.
Making their stop four circuits later, the R3 Gang leapt into action for a fuel/four tire/air pressure adjustment on pit road. Returning to action in 28th place, Richardson was cited for speeding on to pit road. Thus, a pass-through penalty was assessed. While doing so, the caution came out with the No. 23 Southern Pride Trucking car coming down pit road.
This trapped them down two laps to the leaders in 28th place. A rain shower on lap 109 brought out the caution. During this time, Richardson wheeled the black and red Chevrolet to pit road for fuel and front spring adjustments; done by the crew lifting the hood.
The same problems that plagued the team during practice were still there, but not severe enough to end their day. Soldiering on, the pitted again on lap 120 for tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment with the crew ripping off a fast start gaining five positions on pit road.
However, just one lap into the restart, Richardson reported a vibration. Not wanting to harm him or the car, he came back down pit road under green to change right side tires and double check the lug nuts on the left. Again, it was determined he was speeding on to pit road and had to serve a pass-through penalty under green.
He was now trapped on his own lap in 29th place with the only way to move up being through attrition in the field. And, sure enough, it happened enough times to gain three positions. During this time, and making it even more frustrating, the No. 23 Chevrolet was faster than five positions ahead of him on the scoring monitor.
The finish, while not representative of the car, allowed Richardson to move into a tie with Michael McDowell for 28th place in the driver’s standings trailing 26th by just 12 markers. In the all-important owner’s standings, R3 is tied with the No. 89 for 30th place trailing 25th place by just 21 markers.
NASCAR Nationwide Series action is off for the next two weeks before returning to action at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Robert Richardson, Jr. quotes: “To come from where we were in practice to finish 26th, with the car in one piece, says a lot about how this team doesn’t give up. No, it’s not a great finish like we wanted, but it was good enough to move us up in the driver and owner standings. Those two speeding penalties sucked, they really, really did, and couldn’t have come at worse times.
“We were in the top 15 when the first one happened and still had room to move up before the second one took place. But, that trapped us on our own lap for the rest of the race. You can’t move up when the only person you’re racing is yourself. That’s not fun for a driver.
“Again, the crew was awesome on pit road. They really do bring it each and every week and I’m very thankful for their efforts. You can say one thing about our team – we are determined.”
Sponsorship Inquiries: R3 Motorsports is still seeking primary partnerships to fill out their 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series season. For more information, please see contact via www.R3Motorsports.org to get involved.
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