SES: Caraway: Race notes



ASHEBORO, N.C. (JULY 23, 2005) -- J.R. Norris scored his second victory of the 2005 NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southeast Series season on Saturday night at Caraway (N.C.) Speedway in dominating fashion by leading from wire-to-wire in the Caraway 150.

Norris took the lead on the first lap from Pat Brewer and in all honesty never really had to look back too hard to score his third career Southeast Series victory and second win of this season thanks to his victory in June at Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway. In fact, Norris' victory was the first time he's won a Southeast Series race at a track other than Nashville Superspeedway in his No. 5 Victor Ford last year.

"This has been a long time coming," said Norris, a native of Mulga, Ala who now resides in the Charlotte, N.C. area. "It was a long and hot day because it was like 100 degrees, but it was well worth it. Hopefully this will show people I can drive on whatever type of track I race on."

Norris' victory was important for another very important reason as he grabbed the Southeast Series championship lead for the first time in his career by only one point over Dusty Williams who came into the race with the top spot. Two-time and defending Southeast Series champion Jeff Fultz is third in the standings, only 22 markers outside the lead.

It gets even better than that as the current top-six in the Southeast Series standings are separated by only 96 points. Hogan is now fourth (-51), leading AutoMeter Rookie-of-the-Year candidate Gary Helton fifth (-64), with Allen Karnes and Greg Pope sitting in a tie for sixth (-96) and still six Southeast Series events remaining.

Rounding out the top-five Caraway 150 finishing positions were Helton and Williams. The Top-10 was completed by Fultz, Pope, Robert Richardson, Allen Karnes and Alex Garcia.

While Norris was leading the event, perhaps the best battle of the entire night came all throughout the Caraway 150 for the second position between Hogan and Prince. With three laps remaining before the race was extended by a late caution for an incident in the first turn involving Richardson and Fultz, Hogan and Prince got together which put Prince back in third as Hogan ultimately finished .223 seconds in arrears of Norris.

No harsh words were spoken between the two veteran Southeast Series aces, they just marked it up as classic short track racing.

"I was a little faster than Kevin was," Hogan explained afterwards. "When you race against guys like J.R. Norris, Kevin Prince and Jeff Fultz you're racing guys that are 100-percent classy race car drivers. We know how much it takes to draw the line between good hard racing and trying to intentionally wreck somebody. I got a run on him there at the end, but I got a little too hard of a run because I really didn't mean to get into him that hard because that could have taken us both out. I like racing with Kevin and we put on a show all night long. It was a lot of fun."

In fact, Hogan said he was surprised Prince was able to keep control of his No. 1 Land O' Frost Lunch Meats Chevrolet after the contact from the No. 92 Hogan Lumber Company Chevrolet.

"That was cool and I was pretty impressed with Kevin hanging onto that car," Hogan said. "He was so sideways it looked like we were racing on a dirt track."

Prince was able to walk away with a smile.

"Naturally we would have liked to have finished first or second, but it was just one of those racing deals," Prince said. "We ran second most of the night, at some points I was quicker than Jason and other times he was quicker than me. When you get down to 10 laps to go, it's time to go. Jason did what he had to do. We finished third and we're happy with that."

The Southeast Series competes at two Nashville-area tracks -- the Nashville Superspeedway and the legendary Music City Motorplex short track on the grounds of the Tennessee State Fair. What started out as a unique trophy in the form of a coveted Gibson Guitar given by late promoter Bob Harmon, all race winners at the Superspeedway are now given their $3,000 trophy.

Both of Norris' previous two Southeast Series victories came at Nashville Superspeedway, and despite having the dominant car at Caraway, he did not want to see the late caution that sent the event into 'free racing' with an extra five circuits.

Now Norris has a different kind of trophy, one that he should take home and be proud of despite the fact he's given his guitars to his parents and another to crew chief Ritchie Wauters.

"Last Friday at Nashville was really a heartbreaker for us because we had such a dominant car until we had to make an unscheduled pit stop and lost a couple laps," Norris said. "I was thinking the same thing when I saw that last caution flag and knew I was going to have to hold off those guys through a green-white-checkered finish. I was like, 'You've got to be kidding me,' because we've got too good of a team to have that kind of bad luck two weeks in a row."

Justin Wakefield scored his first career Bud Pole after turning in a lap at 96.059 mph, but started the race from the sixth position after a six-car inversion allowed Brewer to lead the field to the green flag. Wakefield's hopes of parlaying his first career pole into his first career Southeast Series victory went out the window on Lap 44 when his No. 98 Bandwagon Ford had problems in the rear end which sent him to the garage far too early for his liking.

In the end, there was simply no denying Norris, a man on revenge, en route to his second victory of the Southeast Series season along with Fultz who has two, while Hogan, Williams and Helton have one a win apiece. Every single one those drivers make up the top-five competitors in the championship race following Caraway heading into the next Southeast Series event on August 13 at the famed Greenville-Pickens (S.C.) Speedway.


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Drivers Alex Garcia , Jeff Fultz , Robert Richardson Jr. , J.R. Norris
Teams Williams