CHINA GROVE, N.C. (April 9, 2011) – Robert Richardson, Jr. and the No. 23 Wildlife Conservation Society Dodge team of R3 Motorsports had a daunting task ahead of them at Texas Motor Speedway on Friday night.
First, they needed to qualify in on time after being ranked 32nd in the Owner’s Standings coming into the race. Once that was achieved, they then needed to race their way back into the top-30 with a good finish.
When the green flag waved over the 1.5-mile oval of TMS as the sun was setting, Richardson vaulted from 43rd to 31st on the first lap. From there, he and the Walter Giles-led team worked to get the car better and better with an eye on a good finish.
After the first green-flag stop on lap 47 for tires, fuel, air pressure and chassis adjustments, Richardson returned to action with better lap times. Just 20 laps later, it looked like disaster struck as the native of nearby McKinney, Texas spun the No. 23 Dodge off of Turn 2.
As the car headed for the inside wall, Richardson applied the proper amount of brakes and steering to avoid making contact and damaging the car. With four flat tires, he limped the car back to pit road for attention.
Great work by the R3 Motorsports crew to replace all the tires, check for any damage and get their driver back into action paid off as they didn’t lose a lap on pit road. When the race resumed, Richardson was now in 33rd place.
The rest of the race was pretty uneventful for Richardson and team as they made a fuel-only pit stop, wave arounds, good changes on other stops and good driving to move up the scoring chart. When all was said and down, they left TMS with a 26th-place finish and moved up two positions in the Owner’s Points to 30th – mission accomplished.
That means they are locked in for this weekend’s race at Talladega Superspeedway and don’t have to endure the “go or go home” situation they did in Texas. And, the finish also moved Richardson up to 22nd in the Driver’s Standings, only nine markers out of 20th place.
Robert Richardson, Jr. quotes: “Man, I can’t even begin to tell you what it’s like to go through what we did this weekend. Having to qualify in on time just sucks; that’s about as nice as I can say that, folks.
“That spin there was pretty scary at first, but once I realized it was going to happen I knew what I had to do to save it, too. I just got up too high there in the turn and couldn’t save it once I got up in the marbles there. Great job by the crew getting us back out and not losing a lap there on pit road. The rest of the race was just spent getting the car better off of the turns and earning positions.
“I would have liked a much better showing on my home track, but we’ll take what we have here and get ready for Talladega knowing we’re good to go for qualifying. This allows up to concentrate on race set ups and drafting during the practices. I love ‘Dega racing.”