CHINA GROVE, N.C. (February 27, 2011) – When one driver leads all 200 laps of a race, and there are only three cautions to slow the pace, it doesn’t leave much left for anyone else.
But, the No. 23 North Texas Pipe Dodge team of R3 Motorsports did take away some good points from Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Phoenix International Raceway. And, driver Robert Richardson, Jr. completed his first race there since 2008 in the process.
After two practice sessions on Friday to learn the track and improve their car, Richardson laid down a qualifying lap on Saturday morning 3/10ths faster than his best practice lap. This lined him up 31st on the starting grid.
When the race started, Kyle Busch pretty much checked out and the engraver started putting his name on the trophy right away. He started lapping cars only 15 circuits into the race on the one-mile oval.
Richardson and crew chief Walter Giles kept communicating what the car was doing during the race as they prepared for the first pit stop. They didn’t get a chance to make adjustments until the first caution waved on lap 53 when Richardson was running 29th.
After hitting pit road, lap times started to pick up as the McKinney, Texas native negotiated the tricky layout of Phoenix.
Two more cautions allowed for adjustments and tires, but they were so far and few between that the team was limited in how many changes they could make during the race. As the laps ticked down, several cars were left on their own lap disallowing any improvement in the running order.
When the checkered flag waved, Richardson did pick up enough spots to finish 24th and earn some valuable driver and owner’s points for the team. As the NNS heads to Las Vegas Motor Speedway next weekend, Richardson is 20th in driver’s points, five behind 19th, and R3 Motorsports in 31st in owner’s points trailing 30th by four markers.
Robert Richardson, Jr. quotes:
“That was a pretty uneventful race we ran there in Phoenix. The green flag runs were so long we didn’t get a chance to really make enough adjustments and gain positions. There was a bunch of us who were left on our own lap there towards the end and we couldn’t improve our spot in the running order. Our car got faster and I was more comfortable getting around the track than when we first started, so we’ll take that bit of good news from this race. But, they’re going to tear it up and re-configure it before we come back in the fall, anyhow.
“We would have liked to finish better, but it’s good to know the team is all on the same page and really liking what we’ve seen in improvements. We moved up in both the driver and owner’s standings, now we just need to go to Vegas and have a good, solid run and move up some more. I’ve been to that track a few times, so I’m looking forward to getting back there.”
Public Relations Director / R3 Motorsports
No. 23 North Texas Pipe Dodge
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