SES: JR Norris Showdown preview

Southeast Series Rookie of The Year Norris a California Favorite JR and Owner Richie Wauters Have Been Fast Everywhere This Year HUEYTOWN, AL (November 2, 2004) -- When the other 39 teams roll into the gate of Irwindale Speedway (CA) this...

Southeast Series Rookie of The Year Norris a California Favorite
JR and Owner Richie Wauters Have Been Fast Everywhere This Year

HUEYTOWN, AL (November 2, 2004) -- When the other 39 teams roll into the gate of Irwindale Speedway (CA) this weekend for the NASCAR Elite portion of the NASCAR Toyota All Star Showdown, they will all and eye on one driver; Southeast Series Rookie of the Year JR Norris.

Norris and his Richie Wauters-owned orange #5 cars are likely to be one of the favorites to capture the All Star Showdown trophy, despite his lack of experience levels at the half-mile track.

"We want to win," said Norris. "We're going out there for one thing only. There are no points to worry about, so winning the race is the only thing that is on my mind. And with this team, I think we have a great shot at it. We've been fast all year long and I don't see it stopping anytime soon."

Norris opened up a lot of eyes in 2004. He earned three Bud Poles (including two-straight to open the season) and collected one win and a series-leading nine top-five finishes in just 12 races. He ended the season second in the point standings, just 21 out of the top spot. It matched the highest points finish for a rookie in any of the NASCAR Elite Divisions (Travis Bennett also second in the Northwest Series point standings).

The All Star Showdown is a true NASCAR All Star event. Ten teams each from the Southeast Series, Southwest Series, Northwest Series and Midwest Series are invited. There are no part-timers, field-fillers or back-markers that make the cut and winning the event carries plenty of prestige.

"Winning this race would be really big. There are a lot of bragging rights on the line and winning this race would be one of the biggest victories of my career. This is a race that is seen by a lot of people thanks to the live Speed Channel coverage. All of us young guys that are looking to move up have a lot of extra motivation for this race."

The teams of the NASCAR Southwest Series know the track well since they race there as part of their regular season schedule. Most of the other 30 teams have been there as well, having taken part in last season inaugural event.

Norris doesn't fit into either category.

"I've never even seen the track before," said Norris.

But that might not be much of a disadvantage for the 24-year-old driver. He's done his homework.

"I've just tried to talk to people who have been there," said Norris. "Hopefully, they've been telling me the truth. When I get to the track, I'll go out and look at it and walk the track. I'll try to see if I can find what the line is and see if it's close to what people have been telling me."

Norris has been out west for about a week already. He competed in the NASCAR Southeast Series race at Phoenix International Raceway last Thursday, but engine problems in the team's backup car hampered their efforts all weekend long. He finished 39th after completing just 66 laps before pulling in to save from damaging the engine any further.

The NASCAR Toyota All Star Showdown will feature heat races on Friday night, November 12th and feature events on Saturday night, November 13th. Both nights of racing will be broadcast live on SPEED Channel. You can catch all of the racing starting at 11pm on Friday night and 8pm on Saturday evening.

With the Rookie of the Year title in the NASCAR Southeast Series wrapped up, JR Norris is focused on winning the second Toyota NASCAR All Star Showdown at Irwindale Speedway (CA) in November with car owner Richie Wauters.

-jt-

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