CHINA GROVE, N.C. – When the NASCAR Nationwide Series teams unloaded at Talladega Superspeedway this past weekend, everyone knew it wasn’t going to take some risk to be rewarded with the element of unknown hanging over the track.
And, for Robert Richardson, Jr. and the No. 23 Wildlife Conservation Society Dodge team of R3 Motorsports they were being rewarded just fine through the first 87 laps of Saturday’s 117-lap race on the 2.66 superspeedway.
After qualifying 26th, his best the year, the McKinney, Texas native began the race with strong single-car runs while trying to find a dance partner in the two-car draft. With great lap times, a strong motor and great set-up from Walter Giles and team it seemed Richardson had everything he needed for a great finish.
While other cars were hooking up with one particular partner right off the bat, Richardson was trying to find someone who could keep up with him. Once he did try several cars, the pack would break away leaving several cars running on their own.
During this time, the No. 23 WCS Dodge was holding its own as Richardson powered around the turns. Even when he went a lap down on the 18th circuit with several other cars, Giles and team weren’t concerned.
A caution four laps later allowed Giles to call for a “wave around” to put their team back on the lead lap. Opting to pit for fuel only just before the green flag waved on lap 32 put Richardson back on the lead lap in 31st place.
One lap later, he was running 20th and would remain in the top-25 positions pitting under caution for fuel only again on lap 45. He would move up to 12th down to 25th, back up to 21st and down to 28th through the next 30 circuits, but all on the leap lap and biding his time for a strong finish.
A caution on lap 82 allowed Richardson to stay out while everyone else on the lead lap hit pit road. This put him in the No. 1 spot for lap 85 earning one bonus point. Pitting for fuel and a tear off only just before the restart had him lined up 32nd for the restart on lap 87.
As the field exited Turn 2, several cars got together on the backstretch and Richardson heeded the spotter’s warning to slow down. He did and was going to clear the wreckage when, a car behind him didn’t slow down in time, hitting him from behind turning the No. 23 right into the outside wall coming off Turn 2.
With heavy damage to the right front, Richardson was one of 16 cars involved in the wreck as he slowly drove his Dodge into the garage so the team could make repairs. The red flag was waved forcing everyone to wait until track clean up was good enough to display the yellow.
With that, the R3 Motorsports team jumped in to repair the right front fender, nose and other needed areas. When the race restarted on lap 92, Richardson was shown 35th on the scoring chart. The team did an excellent job making repairs to get him back on the track, returning to action with nine laps remaining.
The hard work paid off as he earned back seven positions to finish 28th. Making it even more rewarding is the team remains in the top-30 Owner’s Points guaranteeing them a start in this weekend’s race at Nashville Superspeedway – by one point.
Richardson moved up to 20th in Driver Points where he trails 18th by 12 markers.
Robert Richardson, Jr. Quotes: “That finish was not any indication of the car we had, the set-up we had, the motor we had and the pit strategy Walter (Giles, crew chief) called for that race. We were flying there and just biding our time to make our move at the end. Man, that hurts to know we didn’t get a chance to fight for the finish we deserved.
“I was all good to go on that wreck, saw everything unfold in front of me and ready to drive my way through it. All of sudden I was jacked from behind and went up into the wall. We were able to make enough repairs to get back out there and get some points, but it’s still not what we knew we could do here at Talladega. This crew is awesome in the effort they put forth. I know one thing, we’re going to repair this car and cover it up for Daytona in July. This car is incredible at plate tracks.”
Founded in 1895, the Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. They do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world’s largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes toward nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to its platform, because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth
For further information and to join WCS’s mission, please logon to their website at WCS.org.
Communications Director/ R3 Motorsports
No. 23 Wildlife Conservation Dodge
firstname.lastname@example.org / 704-507-1838
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