Josh Richards made his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) superspeedway start in the Coca-Cola 250 Powered by Fred’s at Talladega on Saturday, learning the superspeedway draft and coming home with a 13th place finish. Partner Joy Mining Machinery had over 100 employees and guests in attendance at Richards seventh NCWTS start of the 2011 season.
The weekend started at Talladega with a two-hour practice where crew chief Rick Ren’s focus was to give Richards a chance to learn the historic 2.66-mile superspeedway and to give Richards a chance to practice drafting. .
Richards started the Coca-Cola 250 Powered By Fred’s 22nd in the Joy Mining Machinery Toyota Tundra and was up to 13th by the 10th lap of the 94-lap race. The first caution of the race came on lap 14 when Richards’ No. 51 and the No. 8 of Nelson Piquet Jr. made contact in turn three. Richards was able to stay out of trouble and brought the Joy Tundra to pit road without any damage for a fuel only pit stop. The rookie said the truck felt good, but a little tight in the tri-oval. Richards restarted 12th on lap 17.
The race stayed green until a caution on lap 37 when Ren called the Joy Mining Machinery Tundra to pit road for four tires and fuel. Richards was 20th on the restart on lap 41, with teammate and truck owner Kyle Busch behind him. By lap 45, the two Kyle Busch Motorsports trucks were able hook up and draft together. Richards and Busch were running 18th and 19th respectively on lap 48, running four-wide on the outside when a caution was called for a wreck on the front stretch. Richards brought the Joy Tundra to pit road for fuel only.
On the restart, Richards and Busch were running 17th and 18th with Busch once again pushing Richards as soon as the green flag waved. The two KBM trucks were running on the outside line, three wide, when the two moved up to third and fourth pulling away from the field with 37 laps to go. Caution was called only three laps later, on lap 60, for fluid on the track.
Ren called Richards to pit road for a track bar adjustment and fuel on lap 62, urging the young driver to save fuel for the last 32 laps of the 94-lap race. Richards restarted 16th on lap 64, this time without the No. 18 of Busch as a drafting partner.
By lap 71, Richards felt a vibration in the rear of the truck while searching the field for a drafting partner. On lap 72, Richards was running 11th trying to draft with the No. 23 of Jason White when at lap 85 a caution was called for an accident on the backstretch. The team decided to stay out and not come to pit road. Ren again encouraged Richards to save fuel for the remaining laps. The sixth and final caution on lap 90 was called for debris while Richards was running 18th. When the checkered flag waved on lap 94 Richards crossed the finish line in his Joy Mining Machinery Toyota Tundra 13th in his first superspeedway start.
“KBM brought a great truck to the track this weekend,” Richards said. “It was a really fun weekend, learning the two truck draft and especially in the race drafting with Kyle (Busch). I really enjoyed plate racing and look forward to coming to Talladega again.”
Following the race, crew chief Rick Ren said, “Our goal for Josh this race was for him to finish on the lead lap and bring home the truck in one piece – mission accomplished. With everything that happens during a race at Talladega, it is a difficult place for veterans, let alone a rookie. I think Josh got more and more comfortable as the race progressed and was able to learn a heck of a lot about drafting when he hooked up with Kyle. Unfortunately, Josh got separated from Kyle on the last pit stop and was left to fend for himself at the end of the race. Josh was in a position for his first top-10 but got left without a partner on the last lap. It’s tough to get other drivers to work with you when you are a rookie on the superspeedways. All things considered, Saturday was a positive day and we’ll look for Josh to keep showing signs of improvement next weekend at Martinsville.”
Richards next race will be Saturday, October 29 at Martinsville Speedway where he will run a special paint scheme highlighting artwork by Mooresville, N.C. residents Hunter and Alexandra Vogel. The children created artwork that was made into a sticker that they are currently giving away to honor the Navy SEALs and warriors who gave their lives fighting terrorism in Afghanistan on August 6, 2011. The stickers have become a way for the children to raise money for the Navy SEAL foundation and the widows and children of the fallen. Joy Mining Machinery donated hood branding to highlight the children’s artwork and fundraising campaign.
ABOUT JOY MINING MACHINERY:
Joy Mining Machinery has over 90 years of experience as a global leader in the development, manufacture, distribution and service of underground mining machinery for the extraction of coal and other bedded materials. Headquartered in Warrendale, Pennsylvania, Joy Mining Machinery employs over 8,000 employees worldwide. For additional information, visit www.joy.com.
Kyle Busch Motorsports has quickly established itself as one of the most successful teams in all of NASCAR. The reigning Camping World Truck Series owners’ champions prepare a fleet of race-winning Toyotas out of a 77,000-square-foot facility in Mooresville, N.C. Pending LEED certification, the facility’s state-of-the art equipment and innovative green initiatives make it unmatched among its peers. Fans can stay up-to-date with all the latest KBM news online at kylebuschmotorsports.com, by liking the team on Facebook (KyleBuschMS) and following the team on twitter (@KyleBuschMS).
For more information about Josh Richards and Joy Racing click on joyracing.net or follow on Twitter @joyracing.