Monday, May 27, 2013

N’WIDE: Robert Richardson, Jr. Scores First Nationwide Last-Place Finish For #23 Since 2007

Robert Richardson, Jr. picked up the 1st last-place finish of his NASCAR Nationwide Series career in Saturday’s History 300 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway when his #23 Willbros Group Chevrolet was involved in a three-car accident after he completed 45 of the race’s 200 laps.  The finish came in Richardson’s 115th series start.

Richardson, the 2006 LASTCAR Truck Series Champion, is competing in his seventh Nationwide season.  Since 2008, he has competed for R3 Motorsports, a family-owned team whose distinctive #23 cars have become a fixture in the garage area.  Though Richardson has yet to compete in a full season, the team briefly expanded into the Sprint Cup Series last year.  That season, the team competed mostly as a “start-and-park” operation with Scott Riggs behind the will, the exception being Richardson’s appearances in two restrictor-plate races.  This past February, R3's collected funds paid dividends when Richardson earned a career-best 9th-place finish in the wild season opener in Daytona.  Since then, however, he has finished no better than a 20th at Talladega.

Richardson endured a difficult start to his Saturday in Charlotte when he wrecked on his qualifying lap, forcing the team to roll out the backup.  Locked-in on Owner Points, he still was guaranteed the 39th starting spot in the 40-car field.  Richardson thus had to move behind 40th-place starter Steven Wallace on race day.  Wallace made his first Nationwide start of the season after the withdrawal of the qualified #10 driven by three-time LASTCAR Nationwide Champion Jeff Green.  Joining Green among the DNQs were LASTCAR rival J.J. Yeley in The Motorsports Group’s “start-and-park” #42, Bryan Silas, Matt DiBenedetto, and Darlington last-placer Tanner Berryhill.

Early in the race, it appeared that last place would go to Jason White in Jason Sciavicco’s #24 JW Demolition Toyota.  White pulled behind the wall in the early laps, indicating the possibility that he would earn his first Nationwide last-place finish since driving the #34 Rent-A-Wreck Chevrolet at Nashville in 2002.  However, White returned to the track around the time Richardson spun off the nose of Reed Sorenson entering the quad-oval and tangled with Johanna Long.  Both drivers were uninjured.  While Long returned to the track to finish 45 laps down, Richardson did not, leaving him in the last spot.  White eventually fell out past the halfway mark.

*This was the first last-place finish for the #23 in a Nationwide Series race since 2007, when defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Brad Keselowski lost the engine on his #23 Oklahoma Centennial Chevrolet lost the engine after six laps of the O’Reilly 300.  As of this writing, this finish for owner Keith Coleman remains Keselowski’s most recent last-place finish in a NASCAR points race.
*This was R3 Motorsports’ first last-place finish in a Nationwide Series race.  Last year in the Cup Series, R3 scored three last-place finishes with driver Scott Riggs.
*This was Richardson’s fifth last-place finish across NASCAR’s top three divisions.  The other four came in the Truck Series during his LASTCAR title year in 2006.

40) #23-Robert Richardson, Jr. / 45 laps / crash
39) #24-Jason White / 110 laps / suspension
38) #16-Chris Buescher / 134 laps / running
37) #40-Reed Sorenson / 146 laps / engine
36) #70-Johanna Long / 155 laps / running

1st) Jeff Green (4)
2nd) Tanner Berryhill, Joey Gase, Johanna Long, Eric McClure, Michael McDowell, Robert Richardson, Jr. (1)

1st) #10-TriStar Motorsports (4)
2nd) #14-TriStar Motorsports, #17-Vision Racing, #23-R3 Motorsports, #27-SR2 Motorsports, #52-Jimmy Means Racing, #70-ML Motorsports (1)

1st) Toyota (8)
2nd) Chevrolet (2)

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