CHINA GROVE, N.C. (October 15, 2011) – While having one of his best runs in a long time at an intermediate track, Robert Richardson, Jr. had an electrical gremlin rear its ugly head just before the halfway point of Friday night’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Friday night
The two practice sessions on Thursday allowed Richardson and the Greg Conner-led team of R3 Motorsports a lot of opportunity to work on their Chevrolet. It paid off when they moved up on the Final Practice chart gaining some speed for the evening session.
When qualifying took place on Friday afternoon, Richardson would place himself 39th on the starting grid. Scott Riggs, who had to make it on speed in the No. 03 North Texas Pipe Chevrolet, did the team justice by qualifying 23rd.
The green flag flew with the sun setting behind the grandstands and Richardson started a quick trek forward. Within the first three laps, the black and red No. 23 Chevrolet moved up 12 positions to 27th place.
When the first caution waved on lap 24, crew chief Greg Conner called Richardson to pit road for fuel, four tires and a chassis adjustment. Returning to action, the McKinney, Texas native would stay out for the lap-39 caution and restart 28th on lap 42.
Racing there for the next 29 laps, the caution waved again on lap 68 allowing him to pit for fuel, tires and another chassis adjustment. Richardson said he was loose all around the racing surface.
The adjustments worked as Richardson rocketed past five cars in front of him on the restart. However, because he was the first car two laps down, he couldn’t capitalize on the great adjustments and gain positions.
While the driver and team were biding their time, Richardson radioed in on lap 91 saying the gauges were starting to blink. Then, he said the motor was sputtering down the straights as he lost speed.
Conner called the No. 23 Chevrolet to pit road under green so the crew could lift the hood and check for a loose plug wire. After doing that, the car still didn’t have full power bringing Richardson to pit road again on lap 98.
This time, the crew raised the left side of the car, removed the left-rear tire and replaced the battery. After going back out, NASCAR ruled he was too fast entering pit road – which is easy to do when you don’t have any gauges – and had to do a pass through penalty.
Still not working properly, Conner called the No. 23 to the garage to make sure the problem wasn’t terminal. The crew leapt in and found out the alternator had killed the battery and when they replaced it with the new one it still wasn’t working properly. So, a quick re-do by the crew sent Richardson back out.
The car was back to full power and he once again started to log fast laps. However, when you’re 21 laps down to the leaders, the race becomes a test session for the Texas Motor Speedway race in three weeks.
Richardson and team rode it out and to finish 30th, but optimistic about their next 1.5-mile race because of what they did learn during the Charlotte event.
As mentioned, the NASCAR Nationwide Series race will have the next two weekends off and return to action on Saturday, November 5 at Texas.
Robert Richardson, Jr. Quotes: “Man, we started out so strong and the car was one of the best I’ve ever had at an intermediate track in a long time. We were biding our time and had fixed our loose handling problem looking to have a good finish.
“Then that electrical stuff happened and screwed up our night. We got it fixed, got back out there and tried to go the distance. But, it started again and just made it seem like a much longer race than it was out there.
“The guys on this team work so hard and we just seem to have bad luck when we least need it sometimes. But, they did a great job on pit stops and fixing our problems to get back out there to race.
“We’ll just go get ‘em at Texas. This is a good car, so I’m looking forward to a good run at my home track.”
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