SES: Lanier: J.R. Norris preview

Rookie Sensation Norris Heads to Familiar Ground at Lanier 24-Year-Old Driver Has Risen to Challenge of Winning in First SES Season HUEYTOWN, AL (June 29, 2004) -- J.R. Norris might be leading the NASCAR Southeast Series Rookie of the Year ...

Rookie Sensation Norris Heads to Familiar Ground at Lanier
24-Year-Old Driver Has Risen to Challenge of Winning in First SES Season

HUEYTOWN, AL (June 29, 2004) -- J.R. Norris might be leading the NASCAR Southeast Series Rookie of the Year standings heading into this week's race at the Lanier National Speedway (GA), but the 24 year old appears to be anything but a first-year driver.

Norris, the driver of Richie Wauters' #5 Ford, is third in series points, just 15 markers from the top position. Plus, he recently won his first career SES event at the Nashville Superspeedway. The role of race winner is something that Norris had hoped to fill as soon as possible, but the tag of point's contender is not something that he expected to wear so early.

"You've got to be smart to win a race, but you have to be even smarter to win a championship," Norris said. "The Rookie of the Year title is something that I've really wanted and it is a good goal to chase. The championship is not something that I planned on going after but it's within our reach. I've always been taught to not let chasing points take over your racing habits and I'm going to try and keep doing what has worked for us so far this year."

Norris has shown a talent for adapting quickly to new tracks this season, so the fact that he has raced at Lanier several times already in his career is likely going to be an advantage entering Thursday night's race.

"We have always run well at Lanier," said Norris. "It just seems like I've had bad luck every time I've raced there. The track is hard to read and from day to night; it is two different extremes. Going there with Richie Wauters is going to make it easier on us when it comes to knowing what changes to make to the car. Jason Hogan will be tough to beat - he's got a lot of laps at this track, but I have a really good feeling about this race."

Even though Norris just won his first SES race on a big track and backed that Nashville victory up with a third-place finish at the Kentucky Speedway, he is looking forward to a stretch of the schedule with four short track events in a row.

"We've got a great speedway car, but I think that our short track car is just as good," Norris said. "I haven't been to all of the tracks that we will go to and it does hurt that most of these guys have run these places before, but we'll work with that. I've always been good at adapting to new tracks - whether it has been in Karts, Legacy cars or Super Late Models. I haven't expected to run as well as we have at some of these new places, but we have and that's given me a boost of confidence."

Winning has also helped Norris' confidence and probably has helped him further gain the respect of his fellow competitors. That is something that Norris has been working on all through his rookie season.

"I respect everybody out there and try to race hard and clean," Norris said. "A lot of these guys are people that I've raced against in Super Late Models during my career and they know what kind of driver I am. There was an incident in the first race of the season where I goofed up, but hopefully it isn't a problem when I do make a mistake because I've tried hard to earn the respect of the other racers."

"And winning has been a load off our shoulders," continued Norris. "It feels better going to the track and hopefully it will be a little bit easier to duplicate."

The Rookie of the Year title in the NASCAR Southeast Series is one of the prizes JR Norris has his eye on in 2004, although he is also aiming for the championship in a combined effort with car owner Richie Wauters. If you would like more information on JR Norris and his 2004 efforts, check out jrnorris.com.

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Series NASCAR
Drivers J.R. Norris