Phoenix II: JR Norris race notes

JR Norris Wins Final NASCAR Elite Series Event Phoenix Victory Might Open Doors to Big Leagues of Racing CONCORD, NC (November 10, 2006) -- Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Ken Schrader, Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle and Dick Trickle - those are just a...

JR Norris Wins Final NASCAR Elite Series Event
Phoenix Victory Might Open Doors to Big Leagues of Racing

CONCORD, NC (November 10, 2006) -- Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Ken Schrader, Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle and Dick Trickle - those are just a few of the household names in racing who have won events through the years in the NASCAR Elite Series.

There are actually hundreds of racers who have visited victory lane in the four divisions that made up the Elite Series. But on Thursday night, a final entry appeared on the win list. J.R. Norris won the NASCAR Southwest Series event at Phoenix International Raceway -- the final event ever for the Elite Series.

"This means a lot," said Norris. "Hopefully people will remember this race for a long time, because I know that I will."

This wasn't Norris' first "last" of the season. Earlier this fall, he won the last NASCAR Southeast Series championship.

"It just feels like I can go tell my kids 10 years down the road that I won the last race at Phoenix. I won the last Southeast championship. Any time that you can be the first or last winner, it really means something."

Norris is going to miss competing against the hard-nosed competitors of the Elite Series.

"These guys are racers. They race hard," said Norris. "These guys have respect for each other. They race like it's the last lap, but we give each other room."

Racing at Phoenix in front of a crowd that is assembled for the NASCAR Nextel Cup, Busch Series and Craftsman Truck Series races there this weekend could also prove to be a turning point in Norris' career, as he aspires to move up the NASCAR ladder.

"I couldn't ask for a better place to win," said Norris. "A lot of people are out here, and the ones who aren't are going to be talking about it. Hopefully, this will help me get a ride for next year, because I don't know what I'm going to do yet. I hope that this helps me."

One resident of the Nextel Cup garage who did notice Norris' race was Chase for the Championship competitor Kyle Busch, who visited Norris in victory lane at Phoenix and shared his thoughts on the talent he sees.

"This is a huge win for him," said Busch. "It's a big deal to win in any Elite car, but especially with this being the last race. JR works his heart out. He's a great driver, and I don't know why he hasn't gotten a shot to move up the ladder. Hopefully, this will shine some light on him."

Norris appreciated the support.

"It takes somebody like that, who likes you and knows what you can do, to get a break in racing," said Norris. "He can be my biggest ally. He knows what it takes, and if he thinks that I have what it takes to make it, that means a lot to me."

But it takes more than impressing people to make a mark in the sport these days and Norris is aware of that.

"It's hard to say [if this will help my career]," said Norris. "Money has become such a big object in this sport and I don't have a lot of it. When I talk to a team, that's the first thing that I tell them. All that I can bring is my talent and my will to win races. Hopefully, that will be enough."

Norris led 45 laps of the race and won by more than a four-second margin. But winning wasn't as simple as it looked.

"This was sweet. It looked easier than it really was. It was tough. You've got to bring your A-Game out here or you'll go home with your tail between your legs."

Norris took the lead on lap 81 from Greg Pursley after biding his time early in the race.

"Everyone was backing up. I tried to run the same speed and the same line from lap one to lap 125. Early on, they took off like a rocketship. I let the race come to me."

-credit: www.jrnorris.com.

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About this article
Series NASCAR
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Dick Trickle , Kevin Harvick , Greg Biffle , Kurt Busch , Greg Pursley , J.R. Norris , Kyle Busch