J.R. NORRIS WINS MILWAUKEE 200 WEST ALLIS, Wis. (Aug. 28, 2005) -- In the early weeks of the 2005 racing season, defending NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Midwest Series champion Justin Diercks supplemented his racing program by entering into a...
J.R. NORRIS WINS MILWAUKEE 200
WEST ALLIS, Wis. (Aug. 28, 2005) -- In the early weeks of the 2005 racing season, defending NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Midwest Series champion Justin Diercks supplemented his racing program by entering into a few NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series events. Diercks traveled to Houston (Tex.) Motorsports Park in May and stole a win from the Southeast Series regulars.
On Sunday at the Milwaukee Mile, the favor was returned, with two "visiting" drivers from the Southeast and Southwest Series taking top-five finishing positions in the longest and richest Midwest Series event of the year.
J.R. Norris, a Southeast Series star from Mulga, Ala., won the Milwaukee 200, scoring his first win in the Midwest Series to go along with three he's already won in the Southeast this year. Home-state driver Tim Schendel finished second in the 200-lap race. Eddie Hoffman was third followed by Josh Vadnais and Eddy McKean, who was also visiting from the Southwest Series, in fifth place.
Norris began his Midwestern adventure by winning the Bud Pole award and starting in first place. Schendel grabbed the lead on the first lap but yielded to Norris on lap 15. By the 35th lap, Norris, Schendel and Vadnais had opened a two-second lead over the chase group led by Hoffman and Todd Hansen. Norris, with Schendel and Vadnais still in tow, continued to build a sizable lead until a second yellow flag slowed the field on the 66th lap.
During the caution period that ensued, the race leaders stopped on pit road for fresh right-side tires and fuel, with Norris leading group back on to the race track. Dave Finley did not pit and temporarily inherited the lead, with Norris restarting the race in second position. Hoffman and Diercks lined up behind Norris, thanks to fast pit stops by their crews.
By the halfway point of the race, the front of the pack took on a familiar feel with the cars of Norris, Schendel and Hoffman occupying the first, second and third positions once again.
Just prior to the halfway mark, Steve Carlson made an unscheduled pit stop to replace a faulty battery. The lengthy delay cost Carlson valuable track position and dealt a substantial blow to his championship hopes. Carlson finished 11 laps down on the field in 18th place, placing him 44 points out of the championship lead with just two points races remaining.
On lap 119, Norris made a bold decision to make a second pit stop for another set of right-side tires and fuel. Norris blended back into the field while Schendel and Hoffman remained out front. The race was brought under caution on lap 130 and the leaders once again went to pit road. Norris was able to stay out and restarted in ninth position, the last car on the lead lap at the time.
After two more restarts, Norris began his final charge back towards the front. He took over the third position from McKean on lap 151, dispatched Hoffman a few laps later and was soon challenging for the race lead. Norris returned to the front after passing Schendel in turn four, with 28 laps remaining.
The Midwest Series will participate in a special combination race with the Southeast Series, Sept. 10 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Ken., before wrapping up its 2005 season at LaCrosse (Wis.) Fairgrounds Speedway Oct. 8.