FT. WORTH, TEXAS (November 6, 2010) – Robert Richardson, Jr. and the No. 23 North Texas Pipe Chevrolet team of R3 Motorsports took an interesting route to a 27th-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday afternoon.
After the two practice sessions on Friday morning, the Steve Plattenberger-led team made their qualifying attempt. Being the sixth car out in the later afternoon, Richardson laid down his two laps to line himself up 41st for the race. As the session went on and the sun set, cooler temperatures yielded faster times for those with a later draw.
Once the race action started under sunny-Texas skies, the hometown driver quickly took advantage of his Chevrolet’s set-up moving up to 36th in 15 laps. From there, tight conditions were radioed into the crew where team engineer Jeff Kirkendall was making the pit calls for the day.
Taking advantage of the first caution on lap 42, Richardson brought the North Texas Pipe machine down pit road for tires, fuel and adjustments. The crew was, as usual, on their game as they gained six positions with a great stop.
Lined up 26th for the restart, Richardson raced between there and 32nd through the next 33 laps until the caution waved again on lap 82. This time, Kirkendall elected to stay out and take advantage of the wave around rule to put the No. 23 only two laps down to the leaders in 27th place.
Pitting under green on lap 113 for fuel, tires allowed Richardson to get the proper adjustments to correct the continued tight steering condition. Another caution on lap 147 allowed a stop for fuel, tires and adjustments once again.
This is where things started to get interesting for Richardson on the track. While battling with the No. 42 Dodge on lap 184, the No. 23 Chevrolet was running underneath the other car’s left-rear quarter panel.
After repeated attempts to pass the No. 42, Richardson held underneath him as the No. 42 started to spin to the left. As the car was sideways, Richardson backed off and dove underneath him and avoided making contact to keep the No. 23 in good shape.
Once again taking advantage of the caution, Kirkendall utilized the wave around to gain back a lost lap. This put Richardson 27th with 10 laps remaining for the lap-190 restart. As is typical late in any race with a checkered flag and trophy on the line, another caution occurred on lap 197 to set up a green/white/checkered finish.
During this caution period, the No. 23 of Richardson and the No. 34 thought they had the same position of 25th. As they were riding side-by-side under yellow (which is the formal way for one driver to protest the position to NASCAR scoring) the 34 made contact with the left-front fender of Richardson causing slight damage.
Kirkendall elected not to pit as there wasn’t any visible smoke coming from the left-front tire and wanted to hold onto the valuable track position. NASCAR ruled that Richardson was in 25th place for the G/W/C finale. However, upon the waving of the green, smoke started to come from a fender rub in the turns.
On the white flag lap, the tire went down sending Richardson into the outside wall out of Turn 2 on the backstretch causing damage to the entire right side of the No. 23 North Texas Pipe Chevrolet. This, in turn, caused him to lose two positions en route to the checker flag where he finished in 27th.
As the field entered pit road on the cool down lap, Richardson spun the No. 34 car turning him around. This resulted in a trip by Richardson and Kirkendall to the NASCAR Nationwide Series afterwards to speak with officials about the incident.
Next weekend, the No. 23 Chevrolet team and the entire NASCAR Nationwide Series heads to Phoenix International Raceway for their second-to-last race of the year. Coleman Pressley will drive for the team.
Robert Richardson, Jr. quotes: “We worked really hard during the two practice sessions to get the car better for longer race runs. Once the race started, we were able to move up a little bit there for some positions. I had a tight condition that got better on the longer runs, but was still causing me not to turn the way I wanted in Turns 2 and 3.
“But, the guys on pit road did a great job helping us to earn some more spots. They’ve been pretty darn good all year. Towards the end of the race, things got pretty interesting there, for sure.
“As far as the deal with the No. 42, I was trying to get underneath him and go by as we exited the turns. After several attempts, and him coming down to block my momentum, I got up underneath him farther than the first few times and it took the air off his spoiler and caused him to spin.
“As far as the No. 34, that was just uncalled for in many ways and I didn’t appreciate him making contact with me there under caution. It caused our tire to go down once we started racing again and me to hit the outside wall. That car was fine until he crinkled the fender, that cut the tire and sent me into the wall. I just didn’t care for that one bit. And, apparently NASCAR didn’t like what I did on pit road, either. We all talked and it’s over.”
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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