JR Norris Makes Up Two Laps to Finish Fourth at Nashville 24-Year-Old Collects Third Career SES Pole at Music City Motorplex HUEYTOWN, AL (July 18, 2005) -- If you walked around the pit area on Friday afternoon at Nashville's Music City ...
JR Norris Makes Up Two Laps to Finish Fourth at Nashville
24-Year-Old Collects Third Career SES Pole at Music City Motorplex
HUEYTOWN, AL (July 18, 2005) -- If you walked around the pit area on Friday afternoon at Nashville's Music City Motorplex and asked all of the NASCAR Southeast Series drivers who was going to be the car to beat in that night's 150-lap showdown, every single one of them would have pointed to the same car; the orange #5 of super sophomore JR Norris.
Norris was, hands down, the favorite to win on Friday night. Behind the wheel of the Richie Wauters' owned #5, JR was the fastest car in practice. He then went out and turned in the fastest qualifying lap of the 23 cars in attendance. That marked JR's third-straight pole in NASCAR Southeast Series competition at the half-mile Fairgrounds track.
Norris drew a six for the invert, worked his way through a huge 10-car pileup without any damage and got back up through the field. Showing the maturity that he's learned over the past 16 months, Norris brought his car to fourth and decided to hang back and wait. He was waiting, saving his equipment for a charge for the front at the end of the race.
That charge to the front came, but under much different circumstances than JR and the team had planned going into the night.
"I was just riding along," said Norris. "That is what is so sickening about it. I was just riding. I felt the car getting a little tight and I didn't think there was anything wrong with it. I thought I could work with it. I'd driven a tight car before. We had a caution and we went back green and it was gone. I knew the right front [tire] was down."
After an early-race caution, Norris was forced to pit when the right-front tire went flat, apparently from running something over on the track. In the process, Norris lost two laps to the leader and effectively took him out of contention for the win.
"I just thought the car was getting tight, because it wasn't getting any worse. But what was happening was that we were running and I was keeping the air pressure built up in the right front. After it cooled down during that caution and then we went back green, I knew what it was."
Yet Norris was determined to work his way back up front. He lit the afterburners and turned it on. In the process, during the next 100 laps, JR convinced himself he would make up those two laps and get back on the lead lap in hopes that maybe, just maybe, he could still have a shot to win.
And Norris did just that. Before the 150-lap race was done, he'd made up two laps, under green flag conditions, and finished as the final car on the lead lap in fourth spot.
"I was determined to get back on the lead lap. I don't think I've ever driven that hard in my life. I'm worn out now. Even as the whole race pace slowed down, I stayed a half-second faster than everyone else. That is what is disheartening about it. The fastest car is suppose to win, but it doesn't always win I guess.
"We had a great car, like we do every time, I just can't get luck to stay on my side for 150 laps. We've got one more shot to win here at the end of the year."
Coupled with the misfortunes of his two biggest points rivals, Dusty Williams and Jeff Fultz, both of whom were involved in the first-lap accident, Norris moved within just a few points of the NASCAR Southeast Series points lead.
"We had a good points night. We need to go to Caraway and have another good points weekend and try and win this championship."
Caraway is up next for Norris and the NASCAR Southeast Series. The 150-lap race is set for this weekend at Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, NC.
Norris is competing for the NASCAR Southeast Series championship in 2005 with car owner Richie Wauters.