CHINA GROVE, N.C. (April 30, 2011) – Robert Richardson, Jr. and the No. 23 North Texas Pipe Dodge of R3 Motorsports enjoyed a solid run at Richmond International Raceway in Friday night’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race.
And, making it even better was Richardson picked up his first post-race award of the season for his efforts, as well.
After logging his second-best qualifying effort of the season, Richardson rolled off the starting grid in 29th place. When the green flag dropped for the 250-lap race on the .75-mile oval, it quickly became apparent the Walter Giles-led team was in for a good night with their lap times and how the car handled in the turns.
The only thing they had to do was avoid mechanical failure, flat tires, fuel problems and other people’s mistakes. However, the one factor no team can avoid is long, green-flag runs that prevent pit stops for adjustments.
Such was the case as the first caution flag didn’t wave until the halfway point of lap 125 where Richardson was running 27th. With a fuel window between 95-100 laps, this forced everyone to make green-flag pit stops along the way.
When that first caution did wave, there were only 11 cars still on the lead lap. Giles called for fuel, tires and adjustments. Returning to action in 25th place, Richardson had his work cut out for him with 120 laps left. So did Giles as he had to figure out how to get the most out of the fuel tank, car and driver to gain a good finish.
For the next 100 laps, Richardson held his own running in the mid-20s to maintain track position. Giles had the task of figuring out if another caution would wave to pit for fuel, or time that final pit stop just right to make it to the end.
Making their final stop under green, the No. 23 North Texas Pipe Dodge was having great runs allowing Richardson to stay on the track while others had to pit for fuel. With the final caution falling with five laps to go, Richardson was in perfect position to capitalize on that for the restart.
With a green/white/checker finish, Richardson and the No. 23 Dodge team of R3 Motorsports earned their first top-20 finish of the season. Because of that finish, Richardson received the Featherlite Most Improved Driver Award for being 14 places better than his last race. This also moved him up to 21st in the Driver’s Points and the No. 23 Dodge team up to 31st in the Owner’s Points, just six markers out of 30th and seven out of 28th place.
The team heads to Darlington Raceway for next weekend’s race on Friday night.
Robert Richardson, Jr. quotes: “Finally. We finally put an entire race together without any stupid things knocking us out of the race or causing us to have a bad finish. I can’t say enough about this crew and Walter (Giles, crew chief) on how they work. Their persistence and determination paid off. We were good when we came off the truck, got better in practice and had a really good race. Our pit stops and pit strategy were both great and it showed in the race. This finish was good for the team in a lot of ways; I had fun out there Friday night.”
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No. 23 Wildlife Conservation Dodge
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