CHINA GROVE, N.C. (July 2, 2011) – The Fourth of July fireworks got started early in Friday night’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Daytona International Speedway with enough “oohs’” and “ahhs” from sparks and flames.
And that was from the cars on the track, not above.
When the 43-car field took the initial green flag at dusk, Robert Richardson, Jr. was lined up 26th in the No. 23 North Texas Pipe Dodge. In the early going, he would remain in the mid-20s holding his position and figuring out which drafting partner to hook up with around the 2.5-mile, high-banked track.
By the time the first caution waved on lap 27, Richardson and some others were already a lap down. The good news was Richardson was the first car one lap down, and thus, was able to take advantage of the Lucky Dog rule and get back on the lead lap.
When the race restarted on lap 30, Richardson started a charge forward and settled into mid-20s again for a large portion of the race. At one point, he made his way up into the top-10 as positions were being traded up and down the scoring pylon at a rapid pace.
Just prior to the halfway point of the 100-lap race, Richardson noticed he was having some problems with the left rear of the car. Another driver radioed to his spotter to let the 23 team know it looked something was wrong with their left side axle.
The team caught a break as the caution waved on lap 50 for oil on the track. This put Richardson on pit road so crew chief Walter Giles could direct the needed repairs. Not losing a lap, the R3 Motorsports crew remedied the problem and got their No. 23 Dodge back out in time for the restart.
From there, it was a good run in the mid-20s and top-15 for awhile before long runs stretched the field out around the track. Poised for a decent finish, the left-rear hub on the car started to give Richardson handling problems in the turns.
Even with the two cautions that waved in the last 20 laps, it wasn’t enough to allow for a proper fix to the problem and Richardson did his best for the last 10 laps to finish the race.
The last lap had the usual Daytona finish with 10 cars trying to squeeze into four positions. This caused a big pile up coming off of Turn 4 right before the finish line with cars spinning off into the grass, into the wall and each other.
When the scoring by NASCAR was said and done, Richardson finished in 31st place.
The team heads to Kentucky Speedway next weekend for Friday night action at the 1.5-mile oval. R3 Motorsports’ No. 23 entry remains solidly locked in the top- 30 Owner’s Points positions.
Robert Richardson, Jr. Quotes: “We had a really good car on Friday night, we really did. We moved ourselves up into the top-10 and were running with a few different people out there to hold positions.
“Then, that problem with the axle kind of slowed us down a bit, but I have to give credit to the crew for making the repairs as quickly as they did to keep us on the lead lap. We were good to go there; then the left rear hub really slowed down what we were trying to do and put us on our own lap. We should have shown better results than what you see in the finishing order, that car was great.”
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No. 23 Wildlife Conservation Dodge
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