AVONDALE, Ariz. (November 12, 2011) – Robert Richardson, Jr. and the No. 23 North Texas Pipe Chevrolet team of R3 Motorsports endured a long weekend of racing at the newly-paved track of Phoenix International Raceway.
Because of the new pavement and reconfiguration of the one-mile oval, NASCAR gave Nationwide Series teams one extra practice session to adjust to their new surroundings. Richardson and the Greg Conner-led team utilized those three practice sessions to qualify 30th for Saturday’s 200-lap event.
In the early going, he vaulted up to 23rd and avoided a wreck on the first lap. From there, he would begin to fluctuate in the 20s on the scoring pylon. A lap 37 caution allowed him to hit pit road for tires, fuel and adjustments to the No. 23 Chevrolet.
By the halfway point, he was running 28th and looking to avoid right front tire problems like others were experiencing as the race continued. Another caution stop after the green flag flew on lap 130 allowed another trip to pit road for tires fuel and adjustments.
This would allow him, and the others, to go the distance until the checkered flag – if needed. However, the fate of the race changed for Richardson and team while they were running 23rd on lap 160 when the No. 89 of Morgan Shepherd was inside of him going through the Turns 3 and 4.
The two made contact with Richardson’s No. 23 Chevrolet getting pushed up into the outside causing damage to the right front and rear of the car. He immediately dove to pit road for repairs and tires once the caution waved.
A bit worse for wear - but still good to go – Richardson was able to return to action for the lap 165 restart, giving up only four positions from where he was running before getting spun. From there, the battle up front by the leaders waged on for the final 30 laps.
A red flag with 25 to go slowed the pace of the race after a multi-car crash on the frontstretch as some of the leaders got into each other. Luckily, Richardson was able to avoid the mayhem and not attain any more damage to his car.
Give credit to crew chief Greg Conner and team as they were able to make enough repairs - and to Richardson for his committed driving - to finish the race in 22nd place. The NNS heads to the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway next weekend.
Robert Richardson, Jr. Quotes: “I have to give credit to the folks of Phoenix because they did a real good job in all they did to this track. We really worked hard in each of the practices to get better and better and figure out what was best for our Chevrolet.
“We did okay in qualifying, I wish we could have done better. But, it worked out okay because we were able to pick up a bunch of spots in the first few laps. It was kind of crazy out there in some parts of the race today.
“Me and Morgan (Shepherd) got together there towards the end and it messed our car up a bit. Give credit to Greg (Conner, crew chief) and the crew for making the repairs so fast and making it so we could finish the race.
“Finishing 22nd after all that took place today – we’ll take it.”
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No. 23 Wildlife Conservation Dodge
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