CHINA GROVE, N.C. (July 26, 2010) – Robert Richardson, Jr. has always expressed a fondness for the larger tracks on the NASCAR circuit. Well, after the performance he and the unsponsored No. 23 Chevrolet turned in Saturday at O’Reilly Raceway Park, Richardson might be changing his mind.
The two morning practices on the .686-mile oval produced the 29th and 16th-fastest times from the native of McKinney, Texas. The best part about the second practice was, until others made mock qualifying runs right at the end, Richardson and team were third on the chart.
For qualifying, Richardson drew the first car to go out. He laid down two laps, with the second being 2/10ths faster than his best practice run. When all 43 cars were done, Richardson earned a season’s best starting spot of 29th place.
Right from the initial green flag, it quickly became apparent Richardson was looking to go forward fast on the historic short track. Within the first 25 laps, he was up to 26th and biding his time to earn more positions. By lap 60, despite being down one lap to the leaders, he was up to 23rd and by the first caution on lap 75 he was running 22nd.
He radioed to crew chief Steve Plattenberger and team that he was loose on exit, the back end felt like it wanted to kick out and he needed more forward bite off the turns. Plattenberger called for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment for the lap 79 pit stop. And, kudos to the crew for picking up one position on pit road allowing Richardson to line up 21st for the restart.
With 17 cars on the lead lap, the green waved for the lap 82 restart, however, Richardson was caught up in an accordion affect as cars in front of him slowed instead of speeding up. This forced him back to 30th place having to re-pass almost all seven of the cars in front of him.
Give credit where credit is due, the quarterback-turned-racecar driver worked his back up to 25th by lap 112 and was 24th for the lap 119 caution. The leaders hit pit road and the call to remain out was radioed to Richardson.
This allowed him to take advantage of the “wave around” rule and put him back with the leaders for the lap-125 restart. One lap later, another caution came out and Richardson came to pit road for fuel, tires and an air pressure adjustment. This put right where he needed to be for the rest of the race – good on fuel and tires if the race went the distance.
From there, it was Richardson running between 20th and 22nd place until pitting under caution on lap 166 for tires, fuel and final adjustments. Once the green waved on lap 172, Richardson went from 20th to 16th by lap 190.
On lap 194, while battling Joe Nemechek for 15th place, Richardson accidentally made contact with Front Row Joe sending him spinning to bring out the caution. He immediately radioed in that he didn’t mean to do that and he was going to talk to Joe right after the race.
For the final restart, a green-white-checker ensued and Richardson got by a car in front of him to claim a career-best 15th place -- just missing 14th by one foot -- as the checkered flag waved.
The finish not only bolstered everyone’s spirits on the team, but moved them up one position to 26th in the Owner’s Standings. R3 Motorsports is looking for marketing partners as the NASCAR Nationwide Series heads to another short track, Iowa Speedway, this coming weekend.
Robert Richardson, Jr. quotes: “First, I would like to apologize to Joe Nemechek for getting into him there right there at the end. That’s not my style and we talked immediately after the race. I don’t think it made him feel any better, but I did apologize and offered my side of the story.
“With that said, I can’t believe how great this whole weekend went at Indy. We were pretty good in the first practice, then we made some adjustments and we were awesome in the second practice. Within the first two laps I could tell we had a good car because the No. 23 Chevrolet of R3 Motorsports was third on the chart. You know it’s good when ESPN comes to interview you.
“I told the guys before the race I owed them a good run for all the hard work they did that day, and all week to get ready for the race. That car was hooked up. We had great calls from Steve, great stops from the guys and it was just a real good feeling to be racing out there passing cars and running on the lead lap for most of the night. I loved it and can’t wait to get back in the car this coming weekend at Iowa Speedway. Needless to say, we’re all going to take this momentum with us, too.”
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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