Robert Richardson, Jr’s day cut short at Dover when debris knocks off oil pump belt

DOVER, Del. (May 16, 2010) – Robert Richardson, Jr. and the No. 23 Chevrolet of R3 Motorsports had their day cut short at Dover International Speedway when debris got up under the car and knocked off the engine’s oil pump belt.

After starting 41st, Richardson battled tight racing conditions on his car through the early going of Saturday’s 200-lap race. Utilizing several timely caution pit stops, crew chief Steve Plattenberger called for chassis and air pressure adjustments to help Richardson around the one-mile, concrete oval of the Monster Mile.

The crew contributed several, well-executed stops that enabled Richardson to pick up six positions for one restart and five for another on pit road. Once he got to where the car drove better for him, the native of McKinney, Texas was able to maintain running positions between 29th and 31st place.

Knowing the history of racing at Dover, the team was counting on at least one more pit stop to make some more adjustments to their Chevrolet. That, and knowing how late-race restarts can cause more cautions, the team would be able to take advantage of attrition to gain more spots.

However, while running 31st on lap 151, the car slowed coming out of Turn 2 heading down the backstretch. Waving his hand out the window to warn his fellow drivers, Richardson stayed out of harm’s way as his red and black Chevrolet rode the high side.

With the caution waving for debris and fluid on the track, Richardson eased the No. 23 to pit road. There, the team lifted the hood and saw the oil pump belt was gone and rolled it back into the garage. Actually, the belt was the debris and oil from the car was the fluid that brought out the caution.

Once in the garage, Plattenberger and Co. determined the team was done for the day relegating them to a 35th-place finish. While looking things over, a large ball of bear bond tape, with a piece of the car’s front valence stuck to it, was found stuck under the car. It was quickly determined that was what knocked off the oil pump belt to end the team’s day.

This was the team’s first DNF of the season and dropped them from 21st to a tie for 23rd in the Owner’s Points standings. They trail 22nd place by 44 points and 21st by 52 markers.

The team has a week off before racing at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Memorial Day weekend. But, look for Richardson to drive in the Sprint Showdown, leading up to the All-Star Race, next weekend for another team at Charlotte.

Robert Richardson, Jr. quotes: “I was battling tight racing conditions in the early going and Steve made some good adjustments there to where I could get around the track a little better. The car just wouldn’t hook up the way I wanted when I went back to the gas coming out of the turns. The crew did a good job on pit road to get us some positions, so that always helps.

“When I went back to the gas there on lap 151, the motor just wasn’t there and I knew right away we were in trouble. Once we got into the garage, the guy’s pulled a big ball of bear bond tape out from under the car with a piece of our valence stuck to it. We knew what happened right away.

“I hate that we ended our day earlier because of something like that happening. We’ll take our week off and get ready to race at Charlotte in two weeks.”

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