Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Robert Richardson Jr. Talks NASCAR, Elvis and Tim Tebow

Robert Richardson Jr. is what I'd call a NASCAR Renaissance Man. This self-proclaimed Elvis fan is a former college quarterback who also majored in studio art at SMU. Oh, and did I mention he hopes to run a full Nationwide schedule in 2010 for R3Motorsports?

Richardson will pilot the No. 23 Chevrolet beginning at Daytona (he has 18 races planned right now), and he'll also run a few races on the Cup side as well. We caught up with Richardson a couple days ago and asked him about everything from Danica Patrick to Tim Tebow. Here's what this up-and-coming driver had to say:

What are your goals for 2010 - I know you're hoping to run a full season in the Nationwide Series...

"I have always looked forward to a full season effort. I've always felt taking two to three week breaks in between races and splitting the seat with other drivers has always put a damper on my experience in a car. The more seat time we have, as drivers, the better and more experienced we become. But, without the support from our sponsors, we would not have been able to accomplish the goals we have, thus far, with R3 Motorsports."

What are your favorite tracks on the circuit and why?

"Talladega Superspeedway and Texas Motor Speedway are tracks that hit close to home with me. Texas was where my whole career started and where I earned my first win in a Late Model. Talladega is where I have always run well, and where I made my very first Sprint Cup Series start last year finishing in 18th place."

What are your long-term racing goals - where would you like to be five years from now?

"Well, every race car driver dreams to race in the Sprint Cup Series one day. But for now, I want to hone my skills a little bit more in the Nationwide Series before I make the leap of faith into the Cup Series full time. But, hopefully five years from now, I will be focusing more on running a full Cup schedule. If I feel I’m ready and we can do it properly, it could happen sooner, too."

You know I have to ask - what are your thoughts about Danica Patrick? Do you think all the hype surrounding her takes away from other, more worthy drivers in the Nationwide Series or do you even care?

"I think having her in the sport right now is something NASCAR needs to help put the fans focus back on the sport, and even our Nationwide Series. Although I have never raced against her or met her in person, I won't count her out on being competitive. If she brings the fire and intensity she had from IRL into NASCAR; people better watch out. "

Elvis' 75th birthday was last Friday and I know you're a huge Elvis fan. What's your favorite Elvis song and why?

"(Laughs) Yes, I am a HUGE Elvis fan. It's hard to pick just one song because I like so many of them, but one of my favorites is "Tiger Man" because it has such an upbeat tempo that makes you tap your toes every time I hear it and, occasionally, I’ll sing it while I'm in the car."

You've also got no small amount of football experience on your resume. I live in the heart of Gator Country. What do you think about Tim Tebow and his prospects in the NFL?

"I grew up a Gator fan because my mother’s side of the family lived in Florida. I used to watch the Gators when Danny Wuerffel was their star QB. I admired how he played and when I was in Middle School and High school; I looked up to his "style" of being a quarterback. But, I'm not sure what to think about Tebow in the NFL just yet. He's more of a mobile QB and runs a lot. Most of the NFL quarterbacks are 'stand back and pass' cookie cutter QB's. It will be interesting to see how he does, and see who will draft him."

How does your football experience come into play behind the wheel? Is there anything you learned on the field that has helped you on the track?

"Oh, absolutely. Hand- to-eye coordination was something I worked on a lot playing quarterback in school and having quick feet. You need those abilities while driving race cars, as well. Also, teamwork and creating that "get after their tail" attitude amongst your team is important. One thing I’m big on is having camaraderie with your team. That is, by far, the most important piece of the puzzle to have, in my opinion. Because when it's time to do battle; they will be beside you every step of the way."

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