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Who is Robert Richardson?

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Who is Robert Richardson?

Post  never again on Wed Nov 04, 2009 7:45 am

Ryan McGee

When Sunday's Amp Energy 500 ended, the initial finishing order that we were handed by NASCAR ended up being tossed into the shredder and replaced by a second box score that shuffled around a good portion of the 28 cars that finished on the lead lap.

But no matter which results sheet you got, there was one name that made your eyes pop out. The name listed just above Chasers Juan Pablo Montoya and Jeff Gordon might as well have had a giant question mark printed next to it.

So who the hell is Robert Richardson Jr.?

"I'm a Texan," the 27-year-old said with a laugh Monday afternoon, on the phone from his hometown of McKinney, just north of Dallas.

He's also a touchdown-slinging, race-car-driving former SMU quarterback. (He backed up current NFL QB Josh McCown for the Mustangs in 2001.) And on Sunday, Richardson made his Cup Series debut with the stated prerace goal of "run clean, avoid wrecks and come home with a solid finish." Well then, Mr. Richardson, consider your mission accomplished.

Driving Tommy Baldwin Racing's No. 36 Toyota, the young racer's afternoon closely mirrored that of points leader Jimmie Johnson. Seriously. He rode in the back half of the field for most of the day, quietly clinging to the nether regions of the main pack. With less than 10 laps to go, he was running 35th. Then came the late caution, and Baldwin called for Richardson to come in and top off on fuel. That's when other cars started running out of gas, followed by the Big One on the final lap. When the smoke had cleared (literally) and the final scoring data was sorted out, Richardson had finished 18th in his first Cup Series race.

"To finish top-20 in my first Cup race is, well, it's still a little hard to believe," he said while back home working his day job as a salesman for the family business, North Texas Pipe. "I've run plenty of races in the Nationwide Series alongside Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch. But on Sunday, there I was, out there with guys who only run Cup, guys like Jimmie Johnson and Mark Martin. At one point I said to myself, 'Man, you just passed Jeff Gordon!' It was almost like playing the damn video game. Before the race I heard them saying on the public address system that Richard Childress also made his Cup debut at Talladega 40 years ago. I never thought I'd ever have anything in common with Richard Childress."

Before Sunday's Talladega outing, Richardson had started 69 races in NASCAR's Nationwide and Truck Series with a career average-finish of 29. He'd made 14 Nationwide starts this season with R3 Motorsports, a team founded by his father. Only one of those finishes was higher than 21st, a 16th-place run at Talladega back in April. His only Truck start of the year came Saturday, also at Talladega, when he finished 35 out of 36 trucks, completing only 13 laps before blowing an engine.

So, surely he was more than a little shocked by his finish Sunday, right?

"Yes, sir. But I have always liked racing at Talladega, ever since I first ran there in an ARCA car. So I was very comfortable out there once the initial jitters of being in a Cup race wore off. By the middle of the race it felt like just another race."

If everything goes according to plan, his next Sprint Cup start will be anything but just another race. It'll be the race. Richardson is already lobbying Baldwin to put him in the No. 36 car for next February's Daytona 500. The rookie had wanted to make a 500 qualifying run in February with his own team, but NASCAR said it doesn't let drivers make their Cup debut in the Great American Race and suggested he try to get a deal together for Talladega. After that, the league said they would re-evaluate Richardson's status and rule on whether he could take a crack at Daytona in 2010.

"Hopefully what we did on Sunday will be enough to prove to them that I can do it," Richardson said before dashing off to another sales call and another post-Talladega radio interview. "But regardless, this weekend we're running the Nationwide Series race here at my home track, the Texas Motor Speedway. This will be my last scheduled race of the season and coming off last week's finish the hometown fans are pretty fired up about it. So am I."

So, back to our original question: Who is Robert Richardson Jr.?

He's the guy who's having, with apologies to VH1, the best week ever.

never again

Posts : 94
Join date : 2009-11-03
Age : 82
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Re: Who is Robert Richardson?

Post  OregonSHRFan on Wed Nov 04, 2009 9:17 am

Too bad no one mentioned him on air during the race. For his first cup start he did most excellent.

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Join date : 2009-11-03
Location : Oregon, of course

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