Sunday, July 6, 2014

N’WIDE: Robert Richardson, Jr.’s Backup Car Exits Early At Daytona

SOURCE: Rubbin's Racin' Forums
Robert Richardson, Jr. picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR Nationwide Series career in Friday’s Subway Firecracker 250 at the Daytona International Speedway when his #23 Cornboard Chevrolet fell out with rear end problems after he completed 13 of the race’s 103 laps.

The finish was Richardson’s first of the 2014 season and his first since last spring at Charlotte, 39 races ago.

Prior to Daytona, Richardson had run just four races in 2014 and had finished under power only once - a season-best 31st at Las Vegas.  In the other eleven races, the #23 has been fielded by Rick Ware Racing with drivers Carlos Contreras, Timmy Hill, Josh Reaume, Ryan Ellis, and Road America’s 3rd-place finisher Kevin O’Connell.  Other than O’Connell’s finish, the car’s best finish of the year was 21st, earned by Timmy Hill in his two starts at Bristol and Dover.

Daytona proved to be even more challenging for underfunded teams.  After timing in 33rd of 45 cars in the weekend’s opening practice, Richardson and team looked to better their starting spot in qualifying.  With eight minutes to go in the first session, he joined a pack of a dozen other underfunded teams, including all of TriStar Motorsports, to make another run.  Halfway down the backstretch on the first warm-up lap, the cars discovered it was raining on the track heading into Turn 3.  Mike Bliss hit the water first and lost control, triggering a multi-car wreck.

When the wreck started, Richardson rear-ended the #91 of Benny Gordon and careened into the outside wall, severely damaging his Chevrolet.  The ensuing rainstorm cancelled the rest of qualifying, and while Richardson was able to rely on Owner Points to start 37th in the race, R3 Motorsports found itself with a damaged car and only  a few hours left to prepare the backup.  Gordon became one five drivers who missed the field.

In the race itself, Richardson fell to the rear of the field along with the backups of Mike Bliss, Scott Lagasse, Jr., and Ross Chastain.  At the green flag, Joey Gase fell to last in the #52 Vukelja Law Attorneys / Space Shuttle Inn Chevrolet.  Gase lost touch with the pack, then made an unscheduled pit stop on Lap 14 that cost him three laps.  By the time Gase returned to the track, Richardson had already pulled his backup car behind the wall, ending his night.

Gase climbed to 37th at race’s end, finishing eleven laps down to race winner Kasey Kahne.  He passed both Mike Harmon in his unsponsored #74 Dodge and Mike Bliss’ #19 backup car.  Rounding out the Bottom Five was Tanner Berryhill in his #17 National Cash Lenders Dodge.

*Richardson is the first driver to finish last in a Nationwide Series race with “rear end” as the listed cause since May 6, 2011, when James Harvey Hylton’s #0 G&K Services Chevrolet fell out after 2 laps of the Royal Purple 200 at Darlington.  At 76 years, 8 months, and 10 days, Hylton remains NASCAR’s oldest last-place finisher.  Next Sunday at New Hampshire, Morgan Shepherd is expected to make his first Cup start since he became the oldest last-place finisher in Cup history at 72 years, 4 months, 18 days back at Phoenix.
*This was the first finish for both the #23 and for Richardson in a Nationwide Series race at Daytona.

40) #23-Robert Richardson, Jr. / 13 laps / rear end
39) #74-Mike Harmon / 58 laps / overheating
38) #19-Mike Bliss / 62 laps / rear end
37) #52-Joey Gase / 92 laps / running
36) #17-Tanner Berryhill / 97 laps / running

1st) Blake Koch (6)
2nd) Jeff Green (3)
3rd) Tanner Berryhill, Matt DiBenedetto, Ryan Ellis, Kevin Lepage, Robert Richardson, Jr., Tim Schendel, Jimmy Weller (1)

1st) #10-TriStar Motorsports (7)
2nd) #46-The Motorsports Group, #91-TriStar Motorsports (2)
3rd) #17-Vision Racing, #23-R3 Motorsports, #55-VIVA Motorsports / SS Green Light Racing, #87-Rick Ware Racing, #93-JGL Racing (1)

1st) Toyota (9)
2nd) Chevrolet (5)
3rd) Dodge (2)

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