RICHMOND, Va. - Nationwide Series rookie driver Cale Conley of Vienna was familiar with the confines of the Richmond International Raceway.
Conley had competed on the track during his previous runs in the K&N East Series last year. Earlier Friday, he qualified his Richard Childress Racing No. 33 Chevrolet Camaro in 17th spot for the ToyotaCare 250 Friday night.
Conley was running in the top 20 for most of Friday's race, but was finding it hard to develop any speed. "It was a long race and the car was a handful most of the time." said Conley, who finished 15th. "It was difficult to find grip with fresh rubber." The track was green, due to a three-hour rain delay.
Photo courtesy of Ernie Masche
Nationwide Series driver Cale Conley, right, sits on the pit wall beside his crew chief, Nick Harrison. Conley finished 15th at Richmond International Raceway Friday night. Conley will be back on the track at Iowa.
Conley had difficulty during the restarts. "We seemed to lose spots, due to the lack of rubber on the track," he said. "The car was good on long runs, but the race didn't play out in our hand to have long runs at the end.
"We probably deserved a 15th-place finish, but it was not what we wanted. It was still a positive day though, and I am thankful and blessed to have the chance to drive for RCR."
Kevin Harvick pulled away on the race's restart with 47 laps to go and ended Chase Elliott's two-race winning streak in NASCAR's Nationwide Series with a dominating victory. Harvick led 202 of the 250 laps, with the victory being the 41st of his career in the series as well as his record-extending seventh win at 0.75-mile Richmond.
Conley's previous best finish thus far was at Bristol Motor Speedway, where he earned a top-10 finish in his Nationwide Series debut. He was one of just 12 cars that finished on the lead lap.
Conley gained more driving experience two weeks ago at the "Lady in Black" Darlington Raceway, NASCAR's oldest race track. He was running 14th late in the race when he spun out and hit the inside retaining wall, causing severe damage to the front of his Okuma-sponsored car. He was able to repair the car and finished 32nd.
Conley also participated in the K&N East Series race at Bristol, driving the PMC Chevrolet. He managed to complete just 52 of the 132 laps in the race, placing him 30th among the 35 drivers who participated. He had qualified fourth for the event.
The opportunity to drive in the Nationwide Series came with his signing with Richard Childress Racing. Conley is one of three drivers who share the black and blue No. 33 car during the season. Paul Menard is scheduled to be the main driver for the car with Conley and Matt Crafton taking the wheel when they are assigned. His next shot in the Nationwide Series will be in the Pioneer Hi-Bred 250 at Iowa Speedway on Sunday, May 18.