LAS VEGAS (March 5, 2011) – For the second consecutive NASCAR Nationwide Series race, long green flag runs forced teams to get what they could for a good finishes. Adding to that factor were some minor mechanical gremlins in the No. 23 Wildlife Conservation Society Dodge driven by Robert Richardson, Jr. in Saturday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
The weekend started with an extra day of practice for the NNS teams with two sessions on Thursday. The team had some good runs, but encountered a mechanical problem that started to slow them down in the second session. On Friday, Richardson took part in the first, of two, sessions and the team found another problem that baffled them why the car handled the way it did in the turns.
The good news is they were able to find both problems before Saturday morning’s qualifying session. After laying down his two best two laps of the weekend, the No. 23 Wildlife Conservation Society Dodge lined up 33rd for the 200-lap race; which was eight positions better than their last LVMS visit.
At the drop of the green, Richardson didn’t have much time to see what he had because the first caution waved on lap three. From there, green flag runs had the leaders put others laps down by the 15th circuit around the 1.5-mile oval.
Saying the car was tight for most of the race, crew chief Walter Giles called for as many adjustments as possible on their limited number of stops. With green flag pit stops beginning on lap 35, Richardson waited it out until lap 52 for his first visit to pit road.
Richardson radioed to the crew his Dodge kept wanting to go high in the turns and wasn’t handling like it did earlier in the race. By the halfway point, another caution waved and the No. 23 Wildlife Conservation Dodge came down for massive adjustments to better the handling.
With the car now better on longer runs, Richardson was up to 25th and saying the nose wasn’t sticking to the track like he needed. Several cautions through the next 43 laps allowed for some “fuel only” stops and for tires and adjustments.
By lap 175, the McKinney, Texas native was now up to 23rd as one of only three drivers on the same lap. When the checkered flag waved, that’s where he would finish for his fourth visit at LVMS. That’s two finishing positions better than the prior race at Phoenix and 15 better than Daytona.
With that, he is now tied for 20th in driver’s points, and is only a handful of points from 15th place. The finish also propelled the R3 Motorsports entry from 31st to 28th in the all-important Owner’s Points.
The NNS is off for a weekend, but returns to action at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 19 for their next race.
Robert Richardson, Jr. quotes: “Again, not the finish this No. 23 Wildlife Conservation Society Dodge team deserves, but we did the best we could with the minor mechanical problems we had to overcome. The car was prepared great by Walter (Giles, crew chief) and the R3 Motorsports team. We just had some toe, shock and power problems that hampered our performance throughout the weekend.
“But, we’ll take the driver’s and owner’s points from this race and enjoy the weekend off. We have some catching up to do in the shop, so this break comes at a perfect time for our team.
“Speaking of the team, I would like to commend them for putting the No. 03 North Texas Pipe Dodge into the show with Charles Lewandoski driving. That was pretty cool to help get that ready and really showed we are all working together for the common goal of success at R3 Motorsports.”