JR Norris Grabs Second, In Hunt for Southeast Series Championship Youngster Gets Top-Two Finish on Team Owner's Birthday HUNTERSVILLE, NC (May 18, 2006) -- In a series that consists of only four races, making the most of your opportunities is...
JR Norris Grabs Second, In Hunt for Southeast Series Championship
Youngster Gets Top-Two Finish on Team Owner's Birthday
HUNTERSVILLE, NC (May 18, 2006) -- In a series that consists of only four races, making the most of your opportunities is vital. That is why the chase for this year's final NASCAR Southeast Series championship is pressure-packed. With only four races on the schedule, there is no time for errors. Every single race counts. Those drivers finishing outside of the top-five might already be out of the championship hunt.
JR Norris is not one of those drivers. On Saturday night at South Boston Speedway, Norris picked up a second-place in the Salute To Armed Forces 150 at the legendary Virginia track. Combined with his win at the season-opening Southeast Series event at Greenville-Pickens Speedway (SC), Norris find himself in a tie with friend and fellow competitor Jason Hogan for the lead in the championship point standings.
"This is a tight point's race and it's going to be that way for the rest of the year," said Norris. "Jason and I are right on top now, but both of us are a bad race away from being out of it or letting someone else in the championship race too. There isn't another driver out there though that I'd rather be racing for the title than Jason. We are friends, but we are super competitive when we are on the track. I know he likes to beat me and I like to beat him. That means that this will be pretty interesting."
Making it even more interesting is the fact that the series will take a couple of months off until the next race. And with just two races left, the next in August at Nashville's Music City Motorplex, Norris is already thinking about the title.
"You've still got to go wide open," said Norris. "We both (Norris and Hogan) run pretty well at Nashville, but it's going to depend on who's got the better luck there. I'm looking forward to going there because we've got such a fast racecar, but I just hope lady luck stays on my side."
Norris needs to just keep running as he did on Saturday at South Boston. One of the fastest cars in practice, Norris timed in fifth quick in qualifying and then started fourth due to an invert. Like normal, Norris wasted little time getting to the front. He grabbed the lead on lap nine from Ricky Turner and began motoring away.
However, just about 20 laps later, Norris lost the lead to Hogan and spent the rest of the night trailing his friend.
"Hogan was real good tonight," added Norris. "They had their car really working in the race. I think that if I could've had the same car in the race that I had in practice, we would've had something for him, but the car was real loose off the corner and I just couldn't pick up the gas when I wanted to.
"Usually the track at nighttime tightens the car, but our car got loose from where it was in practice in the daytime. The guys worked hard to get the car really good for me tonight. We'll just have to go back to the shop and take a closer look at it to see what the problem was.
"With about five or 10-laps to go I just decided to hang on to what I had and keep ourselves in the championship run. You only want to run so hard because you could do something stupid and lose what you've got."
Norris' second-place run was also impressive considering he acted as driver and crew chief much of the night, not only for his car, but for his Richie Wauters Motorsports teammate, Ryan Lawler. Wauters, who normally serves as crew chief, was off with his regular job, serving as crew chief for the #15 NASCAR Craftsman Truck team of Billy Ballew.
"We qualified well and so did my teammate tonight. He won the pole with a great lap and I hated to see him have some bad luck, but we hung on there for a good second place finish with my car.
"It was Richie's birthday tonight and I hated that he wasn't able to be here, but he was out with the #15 truck in Mansfield tonight. I wish we could've won for him, but he'll be glad to know that we gave it our best shot."
The team will be back in action on August 9th when the Southeast Series visits the Music City Motorplex for the third race of the season. A start time for the 150-lap event has not yet been determined.