Richmond International Raceway proved to be a difficult challenge for the three Dodge teams this past Saturday night. The trio ran into problems early in the 400-lap Sprint Cup event and never recovered.
The first half of the race was fast with only two cautions the first 237 laps. The next 100 laps turned into typical short-track racing with plenty of fender banging and mishaps that produced six cautions. The final 86 laps were caution free.
Tire wear, handling issues and mishaps were among the culprits that plagued the Dodge Boys. Kurt Busch finished outside the top 20 for the first time this season in nine events. He was 22nd, best among the trio. Robby Gordon was 35th and Brad Keselowski finished 36th.
Keselowski qualified best among the Dodge drivers. He started seventh in the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger and ran in the top 10 early in the race. Following each pit stop, his Charger was among the fastest for 20-30 laps, but fell off the pace quickly as the laps mounted.
We had an awesome race car on short runs all night, but not on the long runs and thats what we faced the first half of the race, said Keselowski. Youve got to have a car that does both and we just didnt have it tonight. Coming into the race, we felt we could run strong and we did. We qualified well and did well on short runs, but we were way off on the long-run stuff.
Busch had a disappointing qualifying effort and had to start at the rear of the field in the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger. Tire wear and a couple of mishaps had Busch stuck in the middle of the field, a deficit he could not overcome.
It was a very frustrating, long night for us, said Busch. We put ourselves behind in qualifying and had to start 36th. Once the race went green, our car just wore through tires by 40 laps into a run. We never could get back on the lead lap and just when I thought that our car was getting better, we get collected when the 42 and 39 got together. We probably had the strongest car running laps down at the end, but when you get more than one lap down, your day is pretty much done. That was certainly the case for us here tonight. We just weren’t very good tonight.”
During the Nationwide race on Friday, our Dodge teams fared much better as Keselowsk and Hornish posted Top-10 Finishes.