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JR Norris Has an Unfair Advantage With His ...

JR Norris Has an Unfair Advantage With His #5 Team
The Secret Weapon Isn't the Equipment or Funding, it's All Simple Chemistry

HUEYTOWN, AL (April 15, 2005) -- When J.R. Norris moved up to the NASCAR Southeast Series last season and finished second in points as a rookie, the racing world was pretty impressed. Those who were jealous might have claimed that he had an unfair advantage in his role as the driver of the #5 Richie Wauters-owned cars.

Actually, they were right, but not in the way that they probably thought.

That's because although a team can buy the best equipment, hire the best people and spend a ton of money in the sport, it does not mean a thing unless you get the correct combination of people working together. That is exactly what the #5 team has and that is the main reason why they run so well together every time out.

And what is so impressive about this fact, is that when Norris joined the team last year, he didn't bring a group of people along with him. He fit right into the core group that was already there.

"Right when we started, we started with all of Richie's guys," said Norris. "We all became real good friends and got really close. The main thing is that we work really good together. We communicate very well."

And that is the unfair advantage that Norris has. It's not the equipment that he has or the fact that his team shares a shop with the Bill Ballew Motorsports #15 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series entry of Shane Hmiel, a team which Wauters is the crew chief for, it's more of the chemistry of all those put together.

"It always makes a difference when you get a group of guys that work well together," said Norris. "That is going to be an advantage anywhere. I don't think that the fact that I work in the same shop as a Truck Series team is our advantage. There are Southeast Series teams that have the same tools, the same equipment and the right personnel to work on their stuff as we do. It's just a matter of getting the whole group to work together and understand each other."

Over the off-season, Norris moved from his homestate of Alabama to North Carolina to join the team full-time and prepare his racecars during the week. This makes the team even stronger for 2005.

"It helps being in the shop," said Norris. "During the day, I'm pretty much the only guy working on my cars because everyone else is working with the Truck Series team. When it's time for those guys to get off work, a few of those guys will stay around and help out.

Norris' other secret weapon that he has is the relationship between Wauters and himself.

"The knowledge that Richie has is great," said Norris. "The biggest thing is that he has been to a lot of the tracks that we go to and he has run well at most of those places. He knows what I should do if I'm doing something wrong and he knows what we should do to the car. He can set the car up well before we even go to the track. A lot of times, we try a bunch of stuff at the racetrack anyways, but we always know which way to go. It took me a couple of races for us to learn each other, but after that we just all clicked."

Since Norris is an up-and-coming commodity in the racing world, the possibility of him graduating from the Wauters team at some point in the future is highly likely. However, his first choice would be able to move up the ladder of motorsports with the same guys he is working with right here and now.

"It all depends on what else comes along," said Norris. "To stay with them is my first choice, but if I can't and I get an opportunity somewhere else to move up, then I might consider it. But this is my first option right here. It's where I want to be."

Norris will return to the NASCAR Southeast Series in 2005 to run for the championship with car owner Richie Wauters.

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Drivers J.R. Norris