CHINA GROVE, N.C. (August 15, 2010) – It was a rough day for the R3 Motorsports Chevrolet team and driver Robert Richardson, Jr. at Michigan International Speedway during Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race.
This was the second race, of four, this year to utilize the new-style Nationwide cars that will be implemented full time in 2011. After starting 41st, Richardson didn’t waste much time moving forward in his unsponsored Chevrolet as he passed enough cars to be running 35th in just three laps and 32nd by the fifth circuit.
There were only two cautions in the 125-lap race with the first coming on lap 61. Running 28th at the time, Richardson said the car need to be freed up a little bit, but he was otherwise happy with how it handled in the turns.
Taking advantage of the multiple grooves, Richardson traded positions back and forth with other drivers moving up to 27th by lap 75. The second caution, unfortunately, is where the fate of the race changed for Richardson and the R3 Motorsports team on lap 112.
While running the high side with 13 laps remaining, Richardson had the No. 66 of Steve Wallace, who was two laps ahead of him, come up on the outside of the No. 23 Chevrolet. Richardson held his line as Wallace changed his mind and cut back to the inside.
In the process, he caught the right rear of the R3 Chevrolet and sent Richardson hard into the outside wall with the entire side making contact squarely. This brought out the caution because the impact was so great it caused the right-side window to pop out of the car.
Coming to pit road, the R3 Motorsports crew leapt into action making repairs to the entire side. However, because MIS is a two-mile track, rules state a right-side window must be in the car at all times.
Having to rush back to the hauler, a replacement window arrived in time to get Richardson back out, but he was now five laps down to the leaders. After one lap, it was determined the car was too damaged to continue and crew chief Steve Plattenberger called Richardson into the garage ending the team’s day with a 33rd-place finish.
The impact was so severe it caused slight injuries to Richardson’s left leg, his upper abdomen and he hit his head so hard he said he blacked out for an instant while going down the backstretch. Coming to his senses just as he entered Turn 3, Richardson managed not to hit anyone else or get in harm’s way before coming to pit road.
Once in the garage, the team discovered the severity of the impact as their brand-new Chevrolet’s chassis was bent so bad that, from first assessment, it seems the car is a total loss.
Meanwhile, Richardson was taken to the Infield Care Center at MIS to be checked out. After being looked at by medical personnel, it was determined he needed to go to a local hospital for a precautionary CAT scan to make sure there were no cranial or internal body injuries.
After the CAT scan and diagnosis, the 28-year old native of McKinney, Texas was released and traveled home on Saturday evening. He will have to do a follow up with a local doctor in Texas.
Robert Richardson, Jr. quotes: “Well, where do I start? We started out good in practice on Thursday and seemed to spend the next two days getting back to that point. The car raced pretty good there in the beginning and we were just biding our time to get halfway-decent points finish at the end.
“As far as what happened with (Steve) Wallace, I don’t know what more he wanted me to do there. I was running the high side and giving the leaders all the room they needed down low all day. He came up on me on the right and just cut back across to the left. When he did that, he turned us right up into the wall.
“That was, by far, the hardest hit I’ve ever experienced in a race car. NASCAR took the black box out and I look forward to seeing what their data says about the crash. I dinged my head pretty good there, banged up my leg and I have a nice bruise on my upper abdomen.
“The worst part is; our new car was destroyed for no damn reason. We’re not a well-funded team like some others, so this hurt us more than what happened to me.”
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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